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Month: August 2012

What Curiosity Means for Science

From our friends at CERN to our colleagues at NASA, it’s been a big summer for science.

All eyes were on the sky during the early morning hours of August 6th, as NASA’s Curiosity rover touched down on Mars.

It was yet another giant leap forward for science and engineering, made possible through years of hard work.

But now that Curiosity has landed on the red planet, what’s next?

For the next two years, the rover will investigate Mars, sending back information that was previously inaccessible to us here on Earth.

Its primary goals will be to study the Martian climate and geology, in hopes of determining whether Mars could have ever supported life.

Curiosity will also help pave the way for human exploration of the planet.

While the rover will cease to operate in twenty-four months’ time, its legacy will live on. Curiosity represents a stunning accomplishment for the countless men and women who contributed to its creation, and serves as an analogy for what we can achieve when we work hard and dream big.

The Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair — YSIDC

The goal of the Youth Science Inquiry Development Camp (YSIDC) is to develop independent inquiry and problem solving skills in Niagara’s youth as well as increase the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) talent pool in Niagara by creating a community of STEM learners.

The YSIDC is a week-long day camp held at Brock University for students entering grades 4-9 in September. Forty-nine talented young people from across Niagara took part this year’s camps that ran the weeks of July 9th and 16th. These participants engaged in design challenges and inquiry experiences that were designed to challenge their current views about science and increase their abilities to conduct their own research. Groups of two or three collaborated on the final culminating task of designing, conducting and reporting an open inquiry using probeware. Participants directed their own research, but were supported by two qualified elementary science teachers and six secondary students. The high school students had all previously completed exemplary science fair projects. Two of them won gold medals and one silver at the latest Canada-Wide Science Fair in Charlottetown P.E.I..

Specifically students learned how to gather, organize and analyze their data to draw conclusions. Participants were also allowed to fail and encouraged to solve their own problems. Moreover, they reported (exit questionnaire at the end of the YSIDC) that they learned the non-linear nature of research and the necessity to reflect on their work and adapt methodologies to solve unforseen challenges. Through collaboration, participants also created new friendships. These connections will be supported with additional programming in the Fall and an on-line space devoted to nurturing the STEM community in Niagara.

This was the second year of the program. Last year, the N iagara REgion Science and Engineering Fair noticed the benefit of the program by seeing the highest level of science fair projects in its history. The Niagara Region also had its most successful showing at the Canada-Wide Fair by winning two gold medals, a silver and three bronzes.Youth Science Inquiry Development Camp

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