March 7, 2011

CALGARY — Junior high school students across Calgary will continue to benefit from innovative hands-on science labs at St. Mary's University College thanks to a three-year grant from a federal government agency.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has given the college $18,800 for its Discovering Science program.

Under Discovering Science, St. Mary's hosts from 40 to 50 junior high school children annually for more than a dozen hands-on, evening lab sessions.

The sessions cover topics like electrochemistry, polymers, luminescence, thermodynamics, radio, forensics and nature. These safe, fun and exploratory labs are open to all Calgary and area junior high school students for a nominal fee.


Launched in 2009, Discovering Science was conceived and created by St. Mary's science faculty to turn kids on to science at an early age. It is the first program of its kind offered in Calgary throughout the school year for students in Grades 7 to 9.

The program's objective is to encourage youth to study the sciences in high school and university.

The program also provides an opportunity for St. Mary's bachelor of education students to co-teach with PhD scientists, allowing them to improve their basic knowledge of science and increase their comfort level with hands-on science.


Dr. Mary Ann Mclean, a biology professor at St. Mary's University College, said the grant will allow the college to continue "to turn kids on to science" and to mentor St. Mary's education students.

"Starting next fall, we will hire several education students to work closely with us throughout each semester. This way, they will gain experience with a variety of activities in biology, chemistry and physics."