Science Literacy Week 2017 in BC

September 12, 2017

Written by: Vanessa Reich-Shackelford

Science Literacy – a term that doesn’t get thrown around often, but is one of the most important terms to become familiar with. Every year, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) supports Science Literacy Week from September 18-24, 2017, “a week-long blitz of science-based activities from coast-to-coast.” It highlights Canada’s top scientists and science communicators from coast-to-coast, to showcase the excellence and diversity of Canadian science, and to show how exciting science is.

But why is science literacy important? Because science is. Science is something we don’t realize our daily lives revolve around. It is something we take for granted – it created the lightbulbs we use to see in the dark, the airplanes we fly around the world in, and the medicine we take when we are sick. Science can be at the core of important political decisions. Science plays a part in our consumption of products and their effect on the environment.

Our community partner, Let’s Talk Science, identifies 5 key aspects of science: science is inclusive, it crosses subjects, it develops literacy skills, it develops numeracy skills, and it develops general and technical skills. You can read all about that here, but in a nutshell, science literacy “involves understanding the impact science has on our world and provides an opportunity to debate issues through written, oral or visual presentations. This gives students opportunities to read, write, defend and communicate their findings in meaningful ways, while helping raise science awareness in audience members in doing so.”

What can you do here in BC during Science Literacy Week? Lots of things! Here are some select events that will help people of all ages engage with science through demonstrations, activities, and talks:

Vancouver Public Library
Biome Bonanza
September 21, 2017
Age range: K-7
Explore biomes such as forests and deserts! Make a mini model and learn about plants and creatures with iPads.

Everything We Don’t Know About the Universe Explained
September 18, 2017
Age range: All ages
In celebration of Science Literacy Week, PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson team up to explain everything we DON'T know about the Universe, from cosmic rays and dark matter to time travel and the Big Bang.

Simon Fraser University
Various events at SFU in Vancouver, Burnaby, and Surrey
September 19-25, 2017
Age range: All ages
The SFU Library, along with campus partners and friends, joins other scientific, cultural, and community organizations across the country in marking this week with events and displays. Events include, but are not limited to, Indigenous Science, How to Succeed in a Quantitative Course, and an IEEE Lunch.

University of British Columbia
Various events on the Okanagan and Vancouver Campuses
September 18-24, 2017
Age range: All ages
Events such as, but not limited to, a series of podcasts, conversations about why you love science, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, and a Body Snatching and the Roots of Anatomy display!

University of Victoria
National Learning to Code Day
September 23, 2017
Age range: High school & above
This workshop has been designed for absolute beginners. If you know absolutely nothing about coding, computer programming or data science, this is a workshop for you!

Vancouver Island University
Various events on the Nanaimo campus
September 18-22, 2017
Age range: All ages
Events include a screening of "Hidden Figures," a presentation entitled "Climate Science & Beyond Climate Change," and a mobile mass spectrometry lab.

Okanagan Regional Library - Oyama Branch
September 19, 2017
Age range: 5 to 8 years old, 9 to 12 years old, Family, School Age
Join the Okanagan Regional Library and explore electricity and circuits with littleBits! Build circuits and invent robot gadgets that actually work. Drop-in activity; no registration required.

Who Wants to Be An Engineer? Science Literacy Week Presentation
September 21, 2017
Age range: 9 to 12 years old, Preteens, Teens
Felix Menu, P. Eng., a mechanical engineer with 15 years of industry experience, will be discussing the role of engineers and geoscientists in society, followed by a hands-on construction challenge.


For more events taking place all across British Columbia, visit the Science Literacy website.
And for a list of must-read books and blogs, must-hear podcasts (Best of the WWEST included!), and must-visit websites, go to Science Literacy's education page.