U of G to 'Promo' Science With New NSERC Funding

July 13, 2011 - News Release

A new federal grant will ultimately help the University of Guelph attract hundreds more Ontario high school students and teachers for one of its most popular youth science outreach programs.

U of G will receive a three-year $12,500 grant for its annual Science Olympics from the PromoScience program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The funding was announced Tuesday in Fredericton, N.B., by Keith Ashfield, minister of fisheries and oceans, on behalf of Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology.

The NSERC PromoScience program funds organizations promoting hands-on learning of science and engineering, including mathematics and technology, among young Canadians. In total, $2.9 million was allocated to 58 organizations including universities, non-governmental organizations, museums and science centres.

“Our government wants to encourage more young people to explore an education or career in science and engineering in order to keep Canada’s economy growing and creating jobs in the future,” said Ashfield. “This program will give youth in communities across the country an opportunity to discover the benefits of these fields.”

As a daylong campus-wide competition, Guelph’s Science Olympics uses fun and games to turn teens onto science, said Bonnie Lasby, recruitment officer for the College of Physical and Engineering Science (CPES). “They really have to do some critical thinking.”

Begun at Guelph in 2009, Science Olympics attracts hundreds of high school students each year to compete in more than 20 learning activities in such topics as human anatomy, veterinary science, nanoscience, animal and plant sciences, chemistry, math, engineering and physics.

This past spring, about 610 teens and 40 teachers from high schools between Windsor and Richmond Hill, Ont., took part. Lasby hopes to attract more than 700 people next year and up to 1,000 within three years.

Participants became microbiology detectives, chemical analysts, weed experts, geo-caching treasure hunters and mini-veterinarians. This year they launched mini-rockets to mark the 2011 United Nations International Year of Chemistry.

Teachers also competed for prizes including books, equipment and gift certificates for classroom use.

Science Olympics is run by about 150 volunteers from CPES, the College of Biological Science, the Ontario Agricultural College, the Ontario Veterinary College, the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, and the U of G Library Learning Commons.

The event attracted 430 students in its first year and more than 500 in 2010. It has become one of the University’s largest science outreach programs, along with school visits to campus and U of G recruitment activities through the Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario.

Science Olympics currently costs about $10,000 to run and is funded by student registrations, corporate sponsors and U of G colleges.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, smacke03@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1