UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 15 | October
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
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
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
Interested graduate students looking for more information can e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.