One of the first things I did when I arrived in Vancouver was a bicycle search. In a city with so much bicycle infrastructure, I felt compelled to bike everywhere. I was lucky and had a friend who let me borrow his bike – thanks Parker! At the time, there was no snow in Vancouver, just a lot of rain.
So where do I even begin? We’ve just been on the go for the past few weeks in Vancouver. Our set-up was different from our norm (schools and community centres) because we were a part of the official launch for Innovation150 at Science World. To help celebrate this year-long initiative of science and innovation, our Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan stopped by to see our Power of Ideas exhibit along with the Actua maker workshops. There was wonderful chaos inside the exhibit with politicians, educators, science communicators, physicists, media, students and the general public. I was thrilled to see so many people coming together to learn about physics and general science. Finally, something worth the media attention!
While we did see many school groups, we were open to the public during Science World hours and engaged with many families. Our tour primarily targets high school students and so it was interesting for us to talk about physics to younger audiences. Having said that, some kids amazed me with their sheer determination in problem solving as well as their overall knowledge in astronomy and physics. I also saw some great interactions within the exhibit from families working together on problems (e.g. the mystery tube) to discussions among parents, children, siblings and friends.
After Science World, we packed up and traveled to Collingwood School in West Vancouver. We participated in a science assembly where we introduced ourselves, talked about what turned us on to science and why we decided to join the tour. Collingwood is an independent school (private school) so we also had younger audiences (grade 6-8) that came through our exhibit and presentations. I think it’s really easy to underestimate how engaged younger audiences will be because they do not cover physics yet and if there is no continued “wow” factor, they often lose interest (at least that is what I’ve observed so far). So, when I learned I would have grade 6s for my first presentation, I have to admit that I expected the worst. I have had previous experiences where students would not sit still and were very disruptive. But, boy was I wrong about this group. They were actually my most enthusiastic audience who could not wait to share their ideas with me. That was a big lesson for me: Don’t underestimate anybody! I think even as a pretty open person who tries not to generalize groups, it’s hard not to do this, especially after a negative experience. Maybe that’s how we get jaded overtime. This was a great learning experience and I’m so happy my first impressions were wrong.
Here are some questions, concerns and ideas from the grade 6 and 7s from Collingwood: