Science Outreach Programming

With 3 different field trip options, various web initiatives, and annual science education conferences, there's lots to choose from.

Number of field trip programs that AMBL offers
Approximate number of high school and elementary school students participating in our programs during the last academic year.
Approximate number of teachers participating in our programs during the last academic year.

PCR DNA Fingerprint Assay (Grade 11 and 12)

Science Creative Literacy Symposia (Grade 5, 6, 7)

Most Exceptional Escapades in Science High School Conference

Phylo Trading Card Game

Game-Based STEM Hackathons

Maker Camp

A significant proportion of our programs currently inform the public at large on the societal, cultural, economic, political, and ethical nuances of the sciences.engaging and educating the public — particularly youth — in the life and physical sciences. Here, AMBL offers a wide range of outreach programs designed to involve elementary and high school communities in authentic, hands-on scientific inquiry, expose them to some of Canada’s leading researchers, and cultivate their scientific curiosity and literacy.

The goal is to peak students’ interest in science, highlight how science intersects with other areas of life, and help students build critical thinking skills that carry over to a range of subjects. Even students who don’t pursue careers directly related to science and technology benefit — they gain an understanding of real world scientific processes that will allow them to follow emerging controversies, think critically about issues, and form reasoned opinions.

Current programs include lab-based fieldtrips, scientific conferences for high school students, educational professional development, training and equipment provision for science teachers, and Science Creative Literacy Symposia aimed at nurturing science writing.

All initiatives are free to participants, and are currently supported by internal funds as well as a number of grants. The labs collaborate with a diverse range of partners to guide program development and drive the initiatives to reality.

"This field trip was amazing. It gave us a chance to play the role of scientists who test DNA everyday. It was fun and I learned a lot about the lab, the equipment and science generally. This made me look at my future options in a very different but good manner"

− Grade 12 High School Student

"This opportunity for teachers is virtually unparalleled. It was stimulating, academically very enriching, and appropriate to the BC biology curriculum. This professional development experience, with such a laboratory focus, is essential for teachers if they are to energize their students with dynamic and relevant instructional strategies."

− Tom Harding - Science department coordinator at Rockridge School

"To be able to excite a student on to pursuing an exciting field such as genomics is one of the ultimate goals of education and I honestly feel that the AMBL has the ability to do this better than classroom teachers might."

− Vim Valera - Teacher at Tamanawis Secondary School

"I received rave reviews about the fieldtrip to the lab. The experience piqued a lot of the students’ curiosity and interest…"

− Anita Kwon - Teacher at Hugh McRoberts Secondary

Bringing Real-World Science to Students

One of MSL’s longest running outreach initiatives is its popular DNA Fingerprinting fieldtrip program. Fieldtrips bring grade 11 and 12 science classes to UBC campus to conduct molecular biology experiments in MSL’s state-of-the-art labs. On any given week students are performing a DNA fingerprint analysis. As well, the content provided in this opportunity also strongly emphasize the importance of science literacy by focusing not just on the technical merits of a discipline such as genetics, but by providing an eye-opening yet objective look at the ethics, politics, economics, and culture surrounding the science.
There is no cost involved for any of these experiments and the material has been designed so that teacher preparation is minimal. The program can currently accommodate roughly 32 classes a year.

Click here for more information on our Grade 11 and 12 DNA Fingerprint Assay Fieldtrip

Science Creative Literacy Symposia

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. Hosted by the Michael Smith Laboratories, and by the fine folks from the UBC Creative Writing Program, each field trip is 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). This program can currently accommodate roughly 15 classes a year.

Click here for more information on our Grade 5,6,7 SCLS Fieldtrip

Most Exceptional Escapades in Science

This one-day annual event brings high school students from across the lower mainland to MSL for hands-on experiments and tales of scientific adventure from some of UBC’s leading researchers. 2008’s inaugural conference featured Brett Finlay (microbiology), Daniel Pauly (fish ecology), Jane Roskams (stem cells), Jaymie Matthews (exoplanets) and Philip Hieter (genomics). MSL was able to accommodate more than 100 students from 25 schools in 2008, and due to the high interest in this session, have continued making this an annual event held usually during the month of March.

Click here for more information on our High School Student Escapade Conference

Science Teacher Training and Game Based Learning Hackathons

AMBL augments its fieldtrip program with molecular biology laboratory kits that allow high school teachers—appropriately trained in a separate workshop series at the Labs—to provide an in-class laboratory experience to their students. Since 1999, the lab has trained over 200 high school biology teachers, and thereafter sent out experimental kits that cater to thousands of students. Here, teachers can borrow all necessary equipment and be provided with the necessary reagents to perform many of these experiments in the convenience of their own classroom. This aspect of the program caters to approximately 500 high school students each year.

AMBL also reaches out to high school teachers through professional development programming. In recent years, this has been instruction related to game-based learning where teachers are introduced to the Phylo project, and guided through a design learning process for use in their classroom.

Click here for more information on our Game Based Learning Hackathons