While the sleepy students were remaining cozy in their homes during their P.A. day on 15 February 2013, MGCI was preparing for a successful event that has been ongoing for 6 years. After rooms for presenters were set up, timing of workshops were organized, and tables arranged, 500 science teachers and other invitees arrived to attend what was known as the “Eureka!” conference.
With the help of fifty student volunteers, science teachers had the opportunity to come together and exchange their experiences about training students in various science-related subjects. In addition, more than 30 exhibitors from different companies such as the National Film Board, Texas instruments, and Ontario Science Centre to see their new resources and technologies.
Every workshop began with a keynote speaker whose knowledge engaged the audience and challenged pre-conceived ideas about teaching. In this 2013 gathering, Jason Foster, a System Design Engineer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Toronto, informed the attendants about the importance of Engineering, and how to support students who are interested in this discipline. In total, approximately 72 different presentations were delivered and covered several aspects of science, and introduced a variety of teaching methods. MGCI’s Mr. van Bemmel, showed how day-long hiking trips allow students to gain a better understanding of the way glaciers and rivers modified the Earth. Mr. Lang, Director of the Canadian Space Resource Center at MGCI, compared the science fiction with the realities of space exploration, and described how Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield can spark interest in classroom discussions. Instructors from other schools also shared interesting ideas on how to bring more variety and fun into our classes. Amy Leask, an educator affiliated with McMaster University, suggested including more philosophy into the science course and Shirley Ng, a science teacher at Emery Collegiate Institute explained the success of using LEGO in 3U chemistry.
According to Mr. Lang , there are “not a lot of professional development opportunities for teachers.” This conference ultimately allowed the participants to improve their teaching techniques. In the future, we might expect them to share with us the information that they have obtained, and their passion towards the field of science. Although we won’t have more hands-on learning experiences due to school budget cuts and other variables, our school is currently considered to have one of the best science facilities, according to various teachers who have also examined other schools.