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Date: May 19, 2005

UVIC Leads New $1 Million Centre For Science Literacy

The University of Victoria is home base for a new $1-million, multi-agency centre devoted to improving science teaching and learning.

The Pacific Centre for Scientific and Technological Literacy is one of five university-based centres across Canada awarded funding today by the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. The centres are being created under the Centres for Research in Youth, Science Teaching and Learning (CRYSTAL) initiative, a pilot program to improve science and math education in Canada.

“Only a small fraction of high school students go on to science-related careers,” says Dr. Wolff-Michael Roth, co-director of the new centre and the Lansdowne chair in applied cognitive science at UVic. “We need to do a much better job of showing students how science is relevant to their world.”

The new centre will be administered at UVic and involves 15 researchers from UVic, Simon Fraser University and Malaspina University College. External partners include the Capital Regional District, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), several B.C. school districts, and the B.C. Ministry of Education. Others will be added as the project evolves.

The centre will work with teachers, scientists and NGOs to offer more participatory science programs for K-12 students and assess the effectiveness of these programs in raising the overall level of science and technology literacy and increasing postsecondary science enrolment.

“The key word is participation,” says Roth. “Research shows that scientific literacy grows the more a student gets involved. For example, if you tell all students in a class to measure how fast a creek is flowing, it might turn them off. But if you let them decide what the problem is and how they want to investigate it, they’re participating. It turns them on to science.”

To spark and foster interest in science the centre will organize internship programs for high school students in UVic laboratories (e.g. climate modelling, water quality), offer professional development opportunities for teachers, and promote various experiential and in-classroom initiatives on topics such as marine conservation and restoration, meteorology, and environmental studies.

The centre will also investigate new ways of teaching students how to read and write scientific, or informational, text and, working with a number of designated “CRYSTAL lighthouse schools” across B.C., will test and demonstrate innovative science education programs.
Media contacts:

Dr. Wolff-Michael Roth (Education), co-director, at (250) 721-7885 or mroth@uvic.ca Dr. Larry Yore (Education), co-director, at (250) 721-7770 or (250) 213-3216 (Thursday-Saturday only) or lyore@uvic.ca Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-7641 or vshore@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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