Tag Archives: Vancouver

Science Communication at the #SharingScienceUBC Conference

31 Mar

My schedule for the past month and a half has been stuffed with conferences – from IPSEC to AAAS, to BC Outreach Workshop and now Sharing Science at UBC – I must admit that I shouldn’t complain about all the great science outreach and communication work I have seen!

The Sharing Science Conference is a science communication conference. The conference was student-driven, organized by the UBC student club Carl Sagan Association for the Communication of Science. This conference was also a collaboration with UBC Faculty of Science, the Science and Technology Studies of UBC Faculty of Arts, and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

If you missed the Sharing Science Conference, don’t worry – here is a summary to help you catch up. Click on the image below to access the story via Storify. Enjoy!

Storify - Sharing Science


The Universe, Our Ocean, and Your Brain – 3 Upcoming Free Science Lectures at UBC

23 Oct

It is funny that I picked the busiest week for me this month to start writing blog posts again. For readers who have been following me – I am again working on reviewing the literature re: women in science (and that will be coming soon!). Thanks again for being patient 🙂

Right now my brain is split into many pieces: one for editing research grants, one for helping out with a research roundtable, one for planning upcoming public events, one for writing blog posts, and one for my personal life (yes, I do have one apparently :P). But my busy schedule also means that there are some public science talks coming up!

This week, there are 3 international roundtable events happening at the UBC Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

Since its founding two decades ago, the mission of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies has been to create collaborative, interdisciplinary, basic research programs for scholars at all stages of their career. It is one of only 30 similar institutions worldwide devoted to the free pursuit of learning and research at the highest levels.

I have been helping out as a coordinator for one of the roundtables. While these roundtable discussions themselves are not public, a requirement for these events is that each must present a public lecture. Here are the three upcoming public lectures via the Institute:

The Universe: Its Structure and Its Support of Life
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 (TODAY!)
7:30pm-9:00pm in Room 1013 at the UBC Earth Science Building (2207 Main Mall)
No RSVP required, but make sure you arrive a little bit earlier to get a seat. There is a plan to film the session to make it publicly available in the future.

This is a public lecture that I am involved in organizing. The two speakers, Graca Rocha (Staff Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California and Member of the Planck Satellite Collaboration) and Pascal Lee (Staff Research Scientist Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California and Member of the Planck Satellite Collaboration) will be talking about our understanding of the Universe and what the future holds for us in searching for another civilization in our Universe.

The Universe: Its Structure and Its Support of Life

Ocean Acidification
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
7:00pm-9:00pm in the Auditorium at the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum ( 2212 Main Mall)
RSVP required – register online at pwiasoceanacidification.eventbrite.ca

Several experts will be speaking about the science of ocean acidification and how it affects the marine ecosystems. Topics will cover an introduction on ocean acidification, its effects on coral reefs, the research experience from Scandinavia, and what we can do in the future. There will be a poster session after the lecture, so you will have a chance to see the research projects done by UBC students and post-docs.

Am I My Brain?
Friday, October 25, 2013
7:00pm-9:00pm at the Royal Bank Cinema of the UBC Chan Centre (6265 Crescent Road)
RSVP required – email bacanim@mail.ubc.ca

How do we define who we are? Am I my brain? Join a group of scholars, writers, and artists in the discussion of neurocentric thinking – “the worldview that situates the brain as the key organ that provides meaning to our lives.” The evening will begin with a performance by Sarah Chase, a world renown dance/literary artist, and will follow with short presentations by scholars.

And don’t forget that I continue to update upcoming events on the Events page. You can subscribe to the Google calendar on the page by clicking on its icon at the lower right corner of the calendar.

Have fun and hope to see you there!

How Accessible Is Our Science?

21 Oct

September 28 and 29 were two very busy days for me. One reason being that I managed to complete a 9K obstacle charity run called the Concrete Hero Challenge (trust me, falling into water from the monkey bars on a rainy Vancouver day was NOT FUN). The other being that my department’s outreach program participated in the 2nd Annual Community Science Celebration at the Vancouver Telus World of Science.

What’s so special about the community science celebration? The biggest draw – free admission. Over the weekend, more than 20,000 people visited the Science World, many were parents with their kids. I, together with my supervisors and volunteers, were all extremely impressed by the enthusiasm Vancouver has for science. I admit that every time I help organize a public science event, the biggest fear has been that nobody would show up, but  the fear has always been proven unnecessary – it feels like Vancouver is the place to be for science.

People lining up around the block in the rain, waiting to enter the Science World.

People lining up around the block in the rain, waiting to enter the Science World.

Now, this is supposed to make be really happy, and it did for a few days – until I realized how much the admission rates for the Science World are.

Public Adult $22.50
Public Child $15.25
Public Senior/Student $18.50
Public Youth $18.50

This means that for a non-member family of four, it costs  $75.50 to visit the Science World once (1 year membership for a family is $185 – still pretty pricey). If we include the cost of of transportation (public transit or parking/gasoline) and eating out, it can cost more than $100 for a family to visit the Science World once. No wonder people were lining up around the block to get into the Science World on a free-admission day*.

I took the liberty to survey the admission rates of Science Museums/Centres in Canada (for adults):

Centre Admission rates Note
Vancouver Aquarium $25.00
Vancouver Macmillan Space Centre $18.00 evening rate $13.00
Edmonton Telus World of Science $16.95
Ontario Science Centre $22.00 low income community access available
Saskatchewan Science Centre $9.00
Telus Spark (Calgary)  $19.95

Now let’s look at the situation internationally. Quickly browsing the websites of several major US Science Education Centres, I found that the prices are in about the same range (e.g., the American Museum of Natural History at $22 USD, the Exploratorium at $25 USD). For Taiwan’s National Museum of Natural Science, which inspired me to be curious about science when I grew up, it costs less than $4.00 to access all the exhibition halls. This place is also massive – with 5 complexes, occupying 9 hectares of land. For the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum in London, UK (or for that matter, many major museums in London), it is free admission. When I tweeted about the cost of visiting science museums, my friends commented:

Perhaps simply my speculation, but I wonder what this says about how accessible science is to a population, and whether that affects people’s perception of science?

If we look at the bigger picture, beyond just the science centres, and shift our focus to other science outreach activities:

How accessible is our science? Are there things we can do to make science truly accessible regardless of background or income? Is science literacy really just about better science education and communication?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this…

* By no means am I considering this the fault of science centres. Truth is that running a science centre costs money – it is incredibly awesome that Vancouver Science World has this community celebration day for everyone to visit! My concern is more on the price tag of accessing science, and whether we (as a whole) can be doing more to support places such as the Science World.

Link Roundup: Cool physics stuff, Vancouver science events, tips for writing about science, & women in science

5 Jul

Cool Physics Stuff

  • One of the coolest demo videos ever. What happens when you add the concept of a Möbius strip to a superconductor train?

  • What happens when you drop the tip of a chain of beads from a beaker? Nice explanation, plus who doesn’t love slow motion videos? HT Jennifer Ouellette.

Vancouver Science Events

Writing about Science

Women in Science

Last but not the least…

Notes from the Northern Voice #nv13, a blogging & social media conference

17 Jun

(If you want to go straight to the notes, they are here – Storify: Social media & blogging tips from the Northern Voice 2013 #nv13)

This past weekend, I finally had the opportunity to attend the Northern Voice, a blogging/social media conference here at Vancouver. It’s funny to think that a year ago, I owned neither a blog, nor a twitter account. This is the first time that I feel I am “qualified” enough to attend – imagine my excitement!

But the excitement comes with some timidness. This conference is quite different from the science conferences that I am familiar with. The Northern Voice is not about a specific subject or topic, but about the desire to share and communicate thoughts, ideas, and experiences through online publishing; this means that we came from all walks of life – from mommy bloggers, PR managers, archivists, technology enthusiasts, to photographers and (obviously) science communicators. Some of these people have tens and hundreds of thousands of readers! I have only just started blogging not long ago, so obviously don’t want to act like an idiot (or too much of a science nerd :P).

Luckily, my experience at the Northern Voice was wonderful. I met many who are also passionate about sharing their stories, some of whom I think I will be friends with for years to come. I also was able to tweet throughout the conference without any guilt (Come on, it is a social media conference – it was almost expected that everyone would pull out their smart phone/laptop/tablet and start tweeting away. Like what Mark Blevis said before his keynote, “if it wasn’t tweeted, it didn’t happen”)

Anyways, for novice bloggers out there, or for those who are interested in starting a blog but haven’t done so, here are some notes I took during the conference. It is in the Sorify format because, well, I took the notes using twitter.  Hope that this will be helpful for you.

Storify: Social media & blogging tips from the Northern Voice 2013 #nv13

If you have any other tips, please feel free to share them by commenting below!

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