.

Category: news

Voyage of the Beagle (Darwin!) Phylo Deck is now available for download and purchase.

Heads up!

The Voyage of the Beagle Phylo Deck is now available for free download, and/or for revenue neutral purchase (both as a boxed set, and a cheaper cards only option).

Many thanks to Karen James for her research work on which organisms to showcase (and where they were found), as well as the awesome artistry exhibited by:
Robert Ball (http://www.robertmball.com),
Golly Bard (http://www.gollybard.blogspot.com),
Simon Gurr (http://gurrillustration.com),
Rachel Ignotofsky (http://www.rachelignotofskydesign.com), and
Diana Sudyka (http://www.dianasudyka.com).

Note: For those, familiar with the game (note that there’s many other decks you can also download or purchase at revenue neutral prices), this game is slightly different in that the home cards are replaced by a voyage map, as well as each organism being coloured tagged according to where Darwin observed them during the voyage (i.e. in the dominoes game mechanic, you also have to make sure connections are matched geographically).

OK, now onto some images of the gorgeous cards:

phylodarwinnoborders-020

phylodarwinnoborders-019

phylodarwinnoborders-018

phylodarwinnoborders-017

phylodarwinnoborders-016

phylodarwinnoborders-015

phylodarwinnoborders-014

phylodarwinnoborders-013

phylodarwinnoborders-012

phylodarwinnoborders-011

phylodarwinnoborders-010

phylodarwinnoborders-009

phylodarwinnoborders-008

phylodarwinnoborders-007

phylodarwinnoborders-006

phylodarwinnoborders-005

phylodarwinnoborders-004

phylodarwinnoborders-003

phylodarwinnoborders-002

phylodarwinnoborders-001

A trip to Massachusetts and a chance to meet some great #scicomm folks…

It’s been a tough few weeks.

But at least on the science front, I am still hopeful – although that might be because my own personal echo chamber happens to be optimistic in nature. Still, a lot of this has to do with the good work done by many of my science communication colleagues out there. Important, engaging, and often breathtaking efforts that continue to add enormous value to the knowledge ecosystem. The challenge, I suppose (as always) is how to get these pieces to reach outside the proverbial choir. This is a task that probably needs some careful thought and a degree of feistiness to power through, but that’s o.k. – science folks tend to rationalize everything and feistiness is something in high supply right now (myself included).

In any event, I thought I’d take the time to highlight a few of these excellent science communicators: specifically, folks I recently had the privilege of meeting in Massachusetts at the New England Biolab’s campus (this was under the rubric of NEB’s Passion in Science Awards). And while I’m of mind, I should mention that I was really impressed with NEB overall. It sounds like a company that has really worked out its priorities in a responsible way (not just on the work satisfaction piece, but also on the development and environmental front).

e8771b36-dd05-44e2-bea5-6e056fd8645d

Anyway, in this space, I’d like to focus on a couple of these award winners, specifically those that are producing some very cool science media. As this is the internet, I’m only going give you a brief taste of the awesomeness they’re creating (a soundbite really), but would really encourage everyone to explore further.

First up, we have Christine Liu at Berkeley (who, with Tera Johnson, is one half of Two Photon art). Christine is a neuroscience PhD student, who also happens to feel quite strongly about her science communication and art work with “zines.” (according to wiki: that which is most commonly associated with a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier).

You would be too, if you checked out her work, and more so, if you chat with her. She envisions it almost like a “movement,” part of the DIY sphere, and possibly even a great pedagogical tool for inquiry base learning (and I would weigh in here with full agreement – in fact, I totally need to follow up, as this dovetails perfectly with some of the hackathon work my lab has been doing). I mean, who doesn’t like zines? And who wouldn’t like zines that talk science? Anyway, do check out, and maybe even buy a few. Her passion is contagious.cliusciencezine

– – –

Next, we have Dana Simmons, also a PhD student in neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Her photography work is sort of a Venn diagram where neurons, microscopy and Andy Warhol might inhabit. Really lovely stuff and her portfolio is definitely worth checking out.

dsimmonsart

– – –

Scott Chimileski, a post doc at Harvard, is all about the microbes. Well, in many ways, many would argue that the foundational aspects of life is itself pretty much all about the microbes, but Scott has taken this love and melded his photographic prowess in producing some awe inspiring photos. So much so, I think that these wouldn’t seem out of place, if you had Sir David Attenborough narrating about them for the BBC. Many of these photos will also be put to good use for an upcoming exhibit at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History.

schimileskimicrobephoto

We also chatted a little bit about potential collaboration. I’m also hoping that his work could translate well as a microbe deck for the Phylo Trading Card project. Microbes are currently under-represented right now in that game system, and this would be a lovely way to bring more of this form of biodiversity into the fold. How cool would the cards look if this became a thing (see below for a few mock ups)?

schimileskicards

– – –

Moving on to the realm of video production, the work of the next three folks would make excellent viewing. I’ve also highlighted an example of each of their work, and I can say that watching these would be a lovely way to spend your time.

We’ll start with Sabah Ul-Hasan, another Doctoral student at UC Merced, who has spearheaded a project that creates documentaries with a mind to spotlight the symbiotic relationship between humans (especially underrepresented communities) and the environment. The project (Biota TV) received Kickstarter funding, and are set to release a few episodes in the future. Here’s a promo to check out.

– – –

And who here remembers those Schoolhouse Rock videos? Well, if you’re in the (ahem) older demographic, you might remember them fondly, and can even sing back some of the classic lyrics. In many ways, Wilbur Ryan, from Florida State University, is betting on this infectiousness, as he adapts this flavor of educational videos for content on environmental science (and by way of ECOmotion Studios). I dare you to watch the below video (about Robert T. Paine’s famous intertidal study in 1966) and not be convinced.

– – –

Finally, we have Chris Martine, a Botany professor at Bucknell University PA. Someone should give this man a science host gig! (seriously) His videos on botany are brilliant and fun, which I can tell you is a combination that is pretty rare. I’ve highlighted one of the episodes below, but there’s 8 in total (so far) that you can merrily watch (and in the process slowly convert into a plant nerd if you’re not one already).

Actually, Chris and I chatted a fair bit at this event – I think it was partly because we were both folks who were further along their careers than most of the other award winners. But this is what makes it all so hopeful. It was kind of outstanding to see how so many of the award recipients were so young – and already doing amazing things. It certainly makes me feel better about the future.

Anyway, do check out all the award winners (the others that I didn’t get a chance to highlight were all great and largely under the categories for research and/or environmental endeavours). You can see their short presentations by visiting this link here. The trip was really wonderful and invigorating overall (and it was a treat to finally visit Boston). Kudos to NEB for arranging this, and fostering an environment where science communication is valued. It really was much appreciated, and (I think we can all agree) something that is very much needed right now.

Games Learning Society conference 2014: a debrief. Although, in short, it was pretty cool.

logo

So, I’ve just returned from the Games Learning Society 2014 conference, held in Madison Wisconsin, and I’m all abuzz with new and grand ideas! Essentially, I went in as someone new to the #gaming #learning #academia field (or a “noob” as the vernacular goes). And although their website only provides a peripheral description of what the conference is about (with only the briefest of blurbs on the GLS’ about page), this particular conference was highly recommended by Barry Joseph, a friend and colleague with whom I’ve been working with on the AMNH Pterosaur Phylo deck. As well, Barry is a highly respected member of the games and learning community, which is to say that if I accidentally refer to him as a “Yoda” in the field, I mean it only in the most positive of ways.

Anyway, a few months back, I literally asked Barry to pass on a recommendation to the following query:

“If I only go to one gaming conference to get my feet wet in this type of community, what would that most excellent conference be?”

And so here we are. Fatigued mentally and physically from last week’s intense learning and networking, but also most definitely inspired to contribute more to the community. This is actually part of the challenge: so many interesting discussions and ideas surfaced with this interdisciplinary crowd, that I’m a bit befuddled on how to proceed and what to focus on next. My work plate is already very full, nutritious and rich, so navigating new opportunities is a little intimidating to say the least. Which is why, I’m going to write this post to organize my thoughts, but doing so, I hope readers will also get a taste of the wonderful community as well as the general vibe (academic or not) of this conference, so as to consider why they might like to attend in future years. Anyway, with this in mind and in no particular order…

gls1401

– – –

one Firstly, I have to give kudos to Edge Quintanilla, Margaret Chmiel and Barry who graciously allowed me to play in their sandbox (as in metaphorically an accepted panel presentation/discussion – “Advancing STEM Learning with Games in Civic and Cultural Institutions: A Play, Critique, and Discussion Session“).

The workshop was both engaging for me (and I think the attendants), but I’m hopeful that maybe in the future the four of us can work on something together. I say this because I kind of think the four of us would make a good “SuperFriends” team, since Barry is from New York’s American Museum of Natural History (let’s say he’s “Superman”), Margaret is from the Smithsonian (let’s say she’s “Wonder Woman”), and Edge is from Chicago’s Field Museum (let’s say he gets to be “Batman”). What you’ll notice is that they inadvertently represent a trifecta of three of the most iconic (natural history) museums in North America. Maybe, I can act as that connecting, comedic, valued, but occasionally mocked (I’m o.k. with this) 4th wheel – or in other words, maybe I get to be one of the Wonder Twins. O.k. that came out wrong, but you get the point.

one I should point out that my official gateway to the gaming scene is via the Phylo Trading Card Game project. This (in case you didn’t know) is an open source biodiversity game project that is essentially attempting to crowdsource a flexible trading card platform that allows for games to be designed around real organisms (indeed, the brilliant but surreal crowdsourcing efforts to date were inspired by knowledge that children know way more about Pokemon than they do about real creatures). It was cool to see such positive reaction to the project, both in commentary, but maybe more importantly in the many people who “got it” right away and started discussing possible “other” uses of the platform.

This ranged from folks like Ariel Marcy who has developed a card game about evolutionary clade sorting (see this successful Kickstarter); to Owen Gottlieb who is thinking about card games that reflect on historical, as well a religious culture, content (I love that). As well, I had a chance to chat with Tom Toynton, and found out that he also has a biodiversity related trading card game that sounds awesomely in tune with some of the mandates of the Phylo project.

A quick chat with Scott Price from BrainPOP was also pretty interesting. Here, he mentioned liking the idea of adapting and improving upon an open trading card platform (such as Phylo) so that it may be more widely used by teachers and students. This was quite intriguing especially given BrainPop’s presence in the educational market. The one nuance that would need navigating, however, is to ensure that the Phylo brand and game mechanic remain open, even if used by commercial vendors. To that end, the Phylo project is currently in the process of determining the right legal framework to allow “for profit” entities to utilize Phylo resources (branding, game mechanics, use of cards, etc) in a way that protects the open philosophy of community driven resources, whilst providing an option for others to commercialize and copyright their own “edits.” In general, I’m hopeful this will add another layer of flexibility in the project, so that more resources can be created in both non-commercial and commercial contexts (p.s. if there are any intellectual property lawyer types that want to help with this, then do let me know).

Finally, at the conference I referenced the fact that Phylo’s DIY card making process would be greatly simplified over this summer (to the point where ideally a 7 year old can do it), with the intent that this would make it a lot easier for things like classroom decks to be created by teachers and their students (you can see examples here, here, here, and here). This proved really popular with the many teachers I chatted with. For those interested, the plan is that when this functionality is released (and note that you can do this right now – it’s just a bit complicated), we’ll likely beta test how it goes by only releasing 100 or so “teacher” accounts.

gls1402

one Still related to the Phylo project, one of most interesting conversations I had, revolved around the possible use of ARIS. This is basically an open source mobile app platform designed to allow educators to tie in GPS and QR code functions into tour or game like immersion experiences.

In Phylo’s case, the discussion was around whether such a platform might be amenable to addressing one of the central criticisms of the Phylo card game – that is, if you want to educate and/or advocate for biodiversity concepts, wouldn’t it be better to simply make people go outside, and not stay indoors playing a card game? Now, there’s all sorts of discussion we can have about the validity of this criticism, but I have always thought that an app that somehow entices Phylo players to go “outside” would be a lovely endeavour.

In this respect, there seems to be a lot of potential, ranging from using the cards as a wildlife checklist, using the cards to navigate a physical tour within a defined space (like a park or a museum), or even (if we ratchet up the creativity) a game wholly developed that draws folks into the card world, whilst moving around an outdoor environment with markers, goals, and/or tasks. I was also of mind about seeing how ARIS could connect with the Encyclopedia of Life. Given the deep and scientifically sound meta data collected by EOL, it seemed like there’s a no-brainer in seeing how these two could somehow mix, especially with their similar open source philosophy. More so, since the Phylo project is currently working with EOL on something very cool.

Anyway, it was great chatting with David Gagnon (with whom I not only share a first name, but also apparently and strangely, identical fashion sense) and Chris Holden on this. It sounds like a follow up proper is best done with a bit of funding, but this is something that has great potential and I’m definitely thinking more about this.

gls1403

one I also love that this was a conference where being an advocate for role playing games has an air of heroism to it. And being a former Dungeon’s & Dragon player, and more recently sharing this fine way of playing with my children, it was cool to see how some people were using RPGs as a portal to better learning. In particular, I had a chance to pick two remarkable brains, that being Trent Hergenrader and Kip Glazer. In their case, use of RPGs naturally flowed around deeper practices on narrative, storytelling, and creating richer context around such writing. It sounded really quite wonderful, with Trent using this innovative approach around creative writing world generation (see an example here with Hellwaukee), and Kip incorporating similar practices to get her high school students to not only better understand a work of literature like Beowulf, but to completely and wholly own it.

Anyway, I’m totally inspired to see if I can use a RPG based mechanic in my one undergrad course I teach – this would be ASIC200, a course with 2nd year undergrad students from both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science, all in together to learn about a few chosen global issues (climate change and genomics for instance). In particular, rather than ascribing learning objectives around writing skills, this would be more about somehow getting students to think, act and perceive the world view of the other (the whole art versus science thing I guess). As the token sciencegeek in the course, I’ll be chatting with Allen Sens (the humanities geek) on whether this might be doable, especially since we’ve been thinking about possibly moving towards a “flipped” class scenario, thereby freeing up a good chunk of class time.

one Kip is also something of a force of nature! We got to speaking about teacher professional development opportunities and from this, we discussed the idea of hosting a teacher hackathon. Here, the goal would be to host a day session with a good number of keen teachers (my facilities can easily accommodate such an event with anywhere between 10 and 90 teachers), and provide a structured but relatively open template where they’ll be charged to explore existing materials, and attempt to come up, or “hack” something better.

Specifically, Kip and I were thinking a session where teachers will come out with a number of fleshed out (and shared) lesson plans/goals/ideas, that could focus on game based learning and mathematics (Kip’s true love). Add to that, the beauty of a hackathons is that it also embody ideals where it’s o.k. if the lesson plans are not perfect or great even. The point is that they represent a viable prototype, and something that can be built upon, more so with this new network of teachers that you’ve just spent intense time with.

Anyway, Kip has already thought through a way to start this in earnest, and the first step involves putting ideas to paper: and why not under the guise of chapter proposal for a book? I’m currently working on seeing if I can bring her out to Vancouver for a visit, so fingers crossed.

no6 In the fall, I’m about to start a research project around children’s impressions of “science” and their impressions of “creativity,” with a mind to explore how they might intersect (or not). This, you can learn more about here, but what was cool was a chance to meet someone working on a research initiative with similar elements. This individual is June Ahn, who has this intriguing project called “Sci-Dentity” where they:

“…are creating an after-school program for inner-city, middle school youth in Washington DC Public Schools (DCPS) where students will create science inspired stories with different media (e.g. graphic novels, short stories etc.) […] A main focus of our research will be to explore how science fiction and other creative narrative projects can be designed and used to help young people imagine the exciting ways that science impacts us as human beings and shape who we are.”

This is especially cool for me, because the research that I’m involved with revolves around a fieldtrip program (the Science Creative Literacy Symposia) which essentially provides an informal educational experience that combines science experimentation with expository creative writing. Anyway, definitely will have to follow up with June to see where we might work together, and possibly even bridge research outcomes, given the potential overlap existing. This is also another example where twitter is proven to be a valuable tool – the whole discussion began via monitoring the #gls14 twitter feed.

gls1404

no7 The description of the next potential project is purely tangential, in that it involves Pokemon and that this somehow relates to the fact that the Phylo project happens to reference Pokemon as a call to action. In any respect, this was spawned by a great conversation with Christian de Luna, a Pokemon devotee, which revolved around Pokemon’s mechanics emulating evolutionary concepts, and how that might be taken advantage of to, you know, actually look at evolutionary concepts proper. I have to say that this is very enticing to me especially as someone who is a geneticist and very familiar with evolutionary biology. How cool would it be to design something around this angle? Anyway, I’m totally game on as a collaborator (maybe from the content expertise angle, but also as a director of an educational lab where we can discuss elements of seed funding and certainly roll out betas to children of various ages), although I am most intrigue by what this grant proposal might look like, as well as where it would go!

no8 Finally, I have to mention that part of the reason of going to #gls14 was to immerse myself a little in the academic culture of people who research games for learning. And there’s probably no better way of doing this than hanging out with the amazing young researchers who shared their time with me. In this respect, I had a lovely time hanging out with folks like Olivia Stewart, Kelly Tran, Niels Quinten, Lori Ferguson, Christian de Luna, Andrew Jefferson, Jeff Holmes, Joey Huang, and Lien Tran to name a few. Thanks to all who were so generous with their time – definitely do look me up when you’re next in Vancouver.

Anyway… In the end, this whole conference was definitely time well spent, but now for the difficult part. Basically, I’m sold – I do want to dig a little deeper into games research, but the reality is that I can only pursue a few of these great ideas in earnest. This is both in terms of intellectual engagement (collaborative grant proposal anyone?) but also in terms of thinking about possible seed funding support. Regardless, I’m pretty sure the GLS conference is now going to be one of those conferences I try to attend on a yearly (or at least biannual) basis.

(Images from the #gls14 feed at Flickr)

Scientists say the Joint Review Panel Report that approves the Northern Gateway Project is flawed and ignores science.

megafacepalmanimatedscience1

It would appear that our (Canadian) Government is poised to once again abhor evidence based decision making. Here, scientists have looked over the Joint Review Panel Report that is being used to push forward the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. In essence, they conclude (and for full disclosure, I am one of the signatories) that it “has so many systemic errors and omissions, we – the 300 signatories – can only consider it a failure.”

What are these flaws you ask? Well, the core problems have been outlined in a press release (see below for full press release), and are as follows:

1. The JRP failed to consider important impacts, such as the increased greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oils sands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia

2. The JRP reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.

3. The JRP unjustifiably dismissed the uncertain risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant risks.

4. The JRP relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed

5. The JRP relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation.

6. The JRP failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings.

The open letter sent to the Prime Minister and asking him to reject the JRP panels can be viewed in full here. The report for the JRP can be downloaded here.

– – –

I have to say that this continued anti-science behaviour from the Canadian Government is so devastating that I feel like the Harper Government now deserves its own meme: hence the silly meme above that is not only animated, but depicts the seriousness of the situation with an elevated facepalm category- the MEGAFACEPALM. Please share widely. (Note: a high quality animated gif can be found here).

– – –

The full press release (June 3rd):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

300 Scientists Denounce the Joint Review Panel Report
Their letter asks Prime Minister to reject JRP findings

Vancouver, BC (Tuesday, June 3, 2014) – Scientists from across Canada are asking Prime Minister Harper to reject the findings of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) in the federal decision to approve or reject the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

In a letter to the Prime Minister signed by 300 scientists from several nations, including fellows of the Royal Society and Order of Canada holders, they say the JRP’s recommendation to approve the oil sands pipeline was based on a “flawed analysis of the risks and benefits to B.C.’s environment and society.”

“The JRP report has so many systemic errors and omissions, we—the 300 signatories—can only consider it a failure,” says UBC associate professor Kai Chan, who led the initiative with SFU assistant professor Anne Salomon and UBC professor Eric Taylor.

“The report does not provide the guidance the federal government needs to make a sound decision for Canadians about the Northern Gateway Project,” Chan says.

The scientists express concerns the Panel omitted important impacts and considered unbalanced, and in some cases, biased evidence that led to a faulty conclusion in its recommendation that Northern Gateway be approved. The JRP assessment, they say:

· Failed to consider important impacts, such as the increased greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oils sands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia

· Reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.

· Unjustifiably dismissed the uncertain risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant risks.

· Relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed

· Relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation.

· Failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings.

The scientists also point to the Panel’s failure to provide an explanation of how it had reached its conclusions, especially the central one, that the project’s benefits justify its risks and costs.

Download the full letter here: http://chanslab.ires.ubc.ca/?attachment_id=2632 (English) http://chanslab.ires.ubc.ca/?attachment_id=2633 (French)

For More Information, Please Contact:

Kai Chan, Associate Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, UBC: 778-839-9820, kai.chan@ubc.ca

Anne Salomon, SFU Assistant Professor, Resource & Environmental Management, SFU

Rick Taylor, Professor, Zoology, UBC: 604-822-9152, etaylor@zoology.ubc.ca

Visit Vancouver: enjoy the scenery, and (oh yeah) enjoy learning molecular biology. July 28 – Aug 1st workshop. Please RT

I’d also like to point out that all fees go towards our various public outreach programs, so even if you’re not interested in attending, it would be totally cool if you could share this with others that may be so inclined.

More details below and also via my lab’s website (bioteach.ubc.ca)

proffworkshopadJuly2014

ONE WEEK VERSION (5 DAYS) – MOLECULAR TECHNIQUES WORKSHOPS
July 28th to August 1st, 2014 (CAN$1400) – poster pdf

DESCRIPTION:This intense 5 day workshop will focus on a myriad of different techniques used in the molecular manipulation of DNA, RNA and protein, as well as inclusion of lectures of high throughput genomic techniques. Primarily aimed at researchers who are new to the area, familiar but require a quick updating, or would like more practical bench training.

Hands on techniques covered include: Various nucleic acid purification methodologies (silica bead, organic, and/or pI based), restriction digests, ligations, dephosphorylation assays, agarose gel electrophoresis, transformation (including electroporation), PCR, reverse transcriptase assay, real time qPCR, SDS-PAGE,Western blot analysis, Isoelectric focusing strips, and 2D protein gels. Lectures on next-gen sequencing, SNPs, microarrays, bioinformatic tools.

To register or inquire about the workshop, please contact Dr. David Ng at db@mail.ubc.ca or 604-822-6264. More information can be found at http://www.bioteach.ubc.ca/portfolio/professional-courses/

REVIEWS FROM PREVIOUS SESSION (Feb 2014):

“Really good workshop!! Dave really does an amazing job explaining all different laboratory experiments and the theories behind them. The workshop gives a very good overview from both a theoretical and practical point of view of the main molecular biology protocols and procedures. Very good to refresh general concepts if you have experience, or to gain exposure if you are not familiar with molecular biology.”
Jose Damon Urbez Torres, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

“It is a very informative workshop with balanced theoretical and practical sections. The environment is a great combination of serious/fun/relax which suited me very well. GREAT JOB!”
Silvia Heredia, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Botany, University of British Columbia.

“Loved this workshop! I came with very little background and experience with these technologies, and found myself gaining a thorough and comprehensive understanding of key methods that are 100% relevant to my current field of research. The instruction was engaging and digestable. Lectures were provided in an efficient manner. Dave Ng makes molecular methods… magical (I was going for alliteration)!”
Kaylee Byers, Ph.D. Student, Vancouver Rat Project, University of British Columbia

“Good review of the basic chemistries of molecular techniques and why they work. Great enthusiasm and entertaining instruction by Dave. An ‘A’ Grade for the workshop.”
Emily Fuerst, Scientist, Kemin Life Science

More reviews can be found at http://www.bioteach.ubc.ca/reviews-professional/

Science things that are awesome…

(Also, all of these goofy pics are now being archived at a tumblr I just set up – scienceisawesomethatisall.tumblr.com)

votingisawesome

O.K. Yesterday was our provincial elections (in British Columbia), and in the end, the Liberal party came out winning. There’s quite a few environmental issues that are in the forefront in my neck of the woods, not the least of which concerns the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The Liberals didn’t actually have the greatest platform on this (at least from an environmental or science policy standpoint), but here’s hoping the public continues to pressure them to do the “best” (re: what scientific expert peer review suggests) thing for the province, and indeed the planet at large.

hydrasareawesome

Last Saturday, my lab opened up the entire ground floor of the Michael Smith Building to the public. This was in conjunction with Science Rendezvous, a cross Canada science festival, and in the case of UBC, organized by the Faculty of Science. In the house (so to speak) were folks from the Beaty Museum, Civil Engineering, Pathology, Physics and Astronomy, as well as the Engineering Physics Robotics lab (who also brought in their 3D printers). We also used the building as ground zero for a number of tours throughout campus.

All in all, a great day (and busy too!). In my space, I actually brought out about a dozen or dissecting scopes and collected a nice jar of pond scum. Kids (and their parents), with some basic instructions, were let loose to find whatever they could find in the pond water. Lots of cooties were found, protozoa and algae abound, but my favourite was this Hydra that I managed to get a decent picture of on my iPhone.

venndiagrams

The scientific method – it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty much the best way out there on collecting your thoughts and information to make sound decisions. All the more so, if the decision is high stakes IMHO.

%d bloggers like this: