Instructors: TBA
Lab Technician: Li-Juan SunLead: David Ng

Science Creative Literacy Symposia

(Mixing science exploration with creative writing. Generally held on Mondays, from January to June. Total 4 hour footprint, held at the high tech AMBL lab space, and free of charge for students and teachers).

NOTE: We are now taking bookings for the 2017 season. Please see more details below.

Days: Mondays
Dates: From Jan to June
Grade Level: 5, 6, 7
Time: 4 hours
Time: 10am – 2pm (note that approximately 45 minutes of this are two surveys for research purposes)

Running Late? Please call the lab at 604-822-2809
Max Participants: ~30
Meeting Spot: At the AMBL lab at the Michael Smith Building (directions)
Cost: Free

Email us (db at mail dot ubc dot ca, subject: SCLS) with your school, class size, grade, topic preference, as well as 3 preferred dates (MON) for your visit. We will do our best to accommodate. Also note that this fieldtrip may have an accompanying research project - because of this, participation in the fieldtrip includes some survey taking during the field trip, although students/parents are welcome to opt out.

Since 2008, The Science Creative Literacy Symposia field trip program has been offered at the University of British Columbia, with the intent of providing an engaging interdisciplinary outreach experience for students at the Grade 5/6/7 level. Here, the fieldtrip combines elements of science exploration with expository creative writing with the aim of fostering skills in written literacy, scientific literacy, as well as develop appreciation in interdisciplinary connections and creativity concepts. For a sense of where the idea came from, click here (hat tip to 826National).

Hosted by the Michael Smith Laboratories, and by the fine folks from the UBC Creative Writing Program, the field trips will be held at the Michael Smith Building. Both authentic research laboratory settings as well as spaces conducive for reflective writing activities will be used.

Each session involves a class of Grade 5-7 students (about 30 max), and will encompass a 10am to 2pm timeframe – this includes a lunch break of 15 to 20 minutes somewhere in the middle (indoor room provided if needed). Basically, the session will be run by two instructors; one a Graduate Student within a scientific discipline, and the other a Masters of Fine Arts student within the Creative Writing program. Each session will be designed to allow the elementary students to play both the role of the scientist (perform a science experiment) and the writer (engage in a reflective writing exercise), with efforts to provide linkage between the two skill sets. As well, it is hoped that there will be an outlet for publication of some of these works from these sessions (at the Science Creative Quarterly,copyright to remain with the student). The fieldtrip is free (first come first served in terms of bookings), although transportation and lunch is not provided.

Science and Writing Content


Option 1. DIY Cloud Chamber Lab: This actvity revolves around the construction of a DIY isopropanol cloud, capable of detecting muons and alpha particles (as seen via ionizing trails). The central themes covered revolve around the question of evidence, especially when things cannot be seen. (see this link for more details). (lesson plan pdf)

Option 2. Biodiversity Microscopy Lab: This activity (limited to April to June months) involves a quick trip to the riparian system by the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Here, pond samples will be collected and taken back to the lab for microscopic observation. The lab is equipped with 15 dissecting microscopes – enough for at least one microscope per pair of students. The central themes covered revolve around environmental stewardship and biodiversity. (lesson plan pdf)

Option 3. Genomic DNA isolation Lab: This activity involves a cheek cell rinse with a sterile saline solution, and subsequent isolation of the students genomic DNA (similar to the Grade 9 experiment). Students will also get to load a DNA gel. The central themes covered revolve around biological identity, and questions related to access to such information – the good and the bad. (lesson plan pdf)


Option 1. Screenplay writing (and performance): This activity revolves around a team of students, where roles have been assigned (scribe, director, actors) and where the team is tasked to write a short screenplay, dramatic play on the science topic. Time is allowed for rehearsals, some prop construction, and finally performances in the main lecture hall. (lesson plan pdf)

Option 2. Choose your own Adventure Class Book: This activity begins with the class discussing elements of fiction, and in doing so, they will “democratically” compose the first page of a story (where character, setting, and conflict are determined). Furthermore, this page one will present the plot with 4 different possible options. The remainder of the activity time, therefore, involves the class breaking into smaller groups, composing the next 4 parts of the story, with each of these 4 parts presenting a further two options. This continues until the class reaches a stage where each individual student will need to compose an ending for the story. In the end, the class will have written a Choose Your Own Adventure Book! (lesson plan pdf)

Option 3. Poetry (slam poetry). This activity involves a variety of different exercises where children will compose (individually and as groups) various pieces of poetry. This will culminate in a poetry reading at the end of the session. (lesson plan pdf)

Note: That if teachers can get the material transcribed, we’d be more than happy to publish it at the Science Creative Quarterly. This would mean that your student(s) would actually have a “real” publication given the traffic stats of the SCQ. You can see some past examples of these here.

At this point, we do our best to accommodate specific requests for specific activities, but are unable to guarantee such requests.


We ask that (if possible) a consent form be filled before coming to the lab. This form allows us the option of presenting the student’s quality work to a wider public. This will be for strictly non-commercial first publication use. Copyright of pieces produced will thereafter remain with the student(s).
(full details and pdf of consent form – click here)

9:45am – 10:00am: Meet at the foyer of the Michael Smith Building (link to directions can be found here)

10:00am – 10:25am: Pre-survey to be filled by attending students (note that students can opt out of this – More details about the research project can be found at this link)

10:25am – ~11:45am: Some combination of science and/or writing activities. Likely, the majority of time will focus on the science experiment which will vary according to the instructors present.

~11:50am – 12:10pm: 15 to 20 minute lunch break. Lunch is not provided, but space for lunch sitting is there if needed.

12:10pm – 1:35pm: Some combination of science and/or writing activities: Here, it’s likely most of the time will focus on the writing exercises, which also will vary depending on the instructors present.

1:35pm – 2:00pm: Pre-survey to be filled by attending students (note that students can opt out of this – More details about the research project can be found at this link)

Note that we are especially keen to attract teachers who are interested in developing a relationship with the program. This is because we are currently conducting a research project around issues regarding authentic science education and the role of creative impressions.

Click here to see the open research blog connected to the SCLS fieldtrip.