Talk about Science!

Jay Ingram, (2nd from left) with SCI 301 students.

Field trip to CBC newsroom led by journalist Johanna Wagstaff.

Hallway booth featuring easy to make recipes for nutritional meals.

Sharing the beauty of Earth Science with high school students.

Del, Edward & Kevin demo healthy, low-cost vegan burrito bowls.

One of three student-produced videos highlighting female SFU faculty.

April 25, 2018

Students in SFU’s inaugural Science Communication course (SCI 301) celebrated the end of the semester over dinner with renowned science communicator Jay Ingram.

Ingram, a science author and broadcaster with past roles hosting the Daily Planet and Quirks and Quarks took the opportunity to offer advice and personal insights. He comments that it was  “…heartening to talk to people who have an attraction to science and sharing it with others.” He adds,  “Scientists under estimate what it takes to be a good communicator.”

The course was developed by Earth Sciences professor Eileen van der Flier-Keller who believes that science communication deserves more recognition.  “The area is growing in importance so it should be something that students are taught, along with the science because it’s a skill they need to have in the working world”, she says.

A semester packed with guest speakers and fieldtrips ended with student groups submitting final projects that communicated science that they were passionate about.

Physics major Shannon Gilchrist and her group produced three videos featuring female SFU science faculty. Gilchrist says that the purpose of their project was to highlight women in STEM and to confront the fears or expectations of young women about being in STEM. “We also wanted to show what these women did to feel comfortable or make their place in science,” she says.

Another student group developed and illustrated a beautiful children’s book featuring marine ecosystems. They are now seeking public funding to help them get it published.

Earth Sciences major Allegra Whistler and her multidisciplinary group chose to exercise their communication skills by visiting high school classes. “We wanted to show that Earth science involves more than rocks, and that Earth sciences is engaging, cool, relevant, hands-on, and contains many sub disciplines that incorporate all the sciences. Whistler adds, “We also wanted to emphasize that even if Earth sciences isn’t for them, there are many options and they need to discover something they are passionate about, whatever it may be, and to pursue it.”

Kinesiology major Edward Chan and his group set up a booth in the AQ hallway and demonstrated that student cooking can be cheap and nutritional. The group received supplies from Nesters Market and distributed a nutritional recipe and sample of their vegan burrito bowl. Chan says “we want to show that it isn’t intimidating, time consuming or expensive to make good food.”

Ingram applauded the course for its utility and relevance. “The students I met have equally diverse plans for incorporating science communication into their lives. Some want to be better teachers; some writers; some not so sure yet. Some will write, some will talk, some will use social media (or whatever comes next). It doesn’t matter in which direction they head. They will all add their own piece and by doing so, influence others.”

The course is open to all science students (FAS, FHS, FS) and will be held again in Spring 2019.