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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 15 | October 4, 2001

Student volunteers nurture science in growing minds

Program opens children's eyes to science, says teacher

by Don Wells staff writer

More B.C. youngsters are thinking and talking about science, thanks to the efforts of UBC graduate students like Beth Simpson.

Simpson, a PhD student in Human Nutrition, is a volunteer in the Let's Talk Science (LTS) Partnership Program, a nationwide volunteer program that creates partnerships between elementary and secondary school teachers and graduate students in the sciences.

The aim is to enrich science education and provide young people with an understanding of the goals and methods of scientific research.

"It's great to dispel the myth that scientists are all males in lab coats," says Simpson, who first volunteered for the program while obtaining a master's degree at the University of Guelph. "Little girls begin to see that science can be a viable career option for them."

In an ongoing partnership, graduate students and teachers typically discuss ideas once a month. The student makes special presentations in the teacher's classrooms two or three times a year.

"As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to show students the possibilities for pursuing their interests," says Hugh Blackman, a teacher at Bayview Community School.

Simpson and program co-coordinator Carl Scott did a presentation in one of Blackman's classes to help explain the scientific principles of motion picture film.

"The UBC students made it interesting for the kids and the science came alive," says Blackman.

"Important scientific policy decisions are often made by non-scientists, so there is a growing need to communicate with the public about science," Simpson says. "I think it's important to start with little kids."

Simpson and Scott are recruiting volunteers and teachers for the upcoming year, determined to grow the program beyond the 38 graduate students who volunteered last year.

"What impresses me is that the program has been student-driven since its inception," says Science Dean Maria Klawe. "Nobody has a co-ordinating role except them, and they have done an incredible job."

Interested graduate students looking for more information can e-mail lts@gss.ubc.ca or visit www.gss.ubc.ca/LTS.

LTS is supported by the President's Office, and the faculties of Science, Agricultural Sciences, Forestry, Medicine, and Applied Science as well as the Graduate Student Society.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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