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NRCan: SCIENCE OUTREACH AND ENGAGEMENT GRANT

In 2017/18, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC) conducted a pilot project to connect NRCan’s science and technology activities with communication to Canadians through Science Centres. In the Fall of 2018, the CASC office issued a call for proposal to expand the scope of the 2017/18 program.

For the 2018/19 program, CASC invited proposals from CASC Full Members to obtain a small grant to create new programming or support existing programming that is in line with NRCan objectives.

    Objective 1:

    To provide the public with a better understanding of important science being done on issues affecting Canada such as:

    • Environmental sustainability;
    • Climate change mitigation and adaptation;
    • Competitiveness of natural resources sectors; and,
    • Public safety and national security

    Objective 2:

    Benefit from a mutual opportunity to expand reach when disseminating science knowledge (to reach new audiences)

    Objective 3:

    To increase public understanding of evidence-based decision-making

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    Grant Recipients 

    The office received twelve applications from which four were selected to receive the Science Outreach and Engagement Grant from Natural Resources Canada. A panel of industry peers was selected and collectively reviewed all of the applications.

    Through the generous support of The Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) each organization was granted $8000.00 to support their programming.

    The Science Outreach and Engagement Grant from Natural Resources Canada aimed to:

    • Encourage innovation via the dissemination of information (e.g. success stories); 
    • Maintain a dialogue on the sustainable and responsible development of Canada’s natural resources; 


    • Share best practices on clean, sustainable, efficient technologies and best practices related to natural resources; and, 
    • Promote the safety of Canadians and Canada’s natural resources against pests, fire, and other hazards. 


    Between Sky and Earth

    A science outreach activity conducted by the Sherbrooke Museum of Nature and Science in collaboration with the faculty of geomatics from the Université de Sherbrooke.

    Participants watched live demonstrations of remote sensing technologies like LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), discussed the usefulness of drones, their benefits, as well as their drawbacks and limitations and experimented with multi-criteria analysis. Students were able to engage with actual researchers providing them with a better understanding of the applications of these technologies – fueling their curiosity for science.


    Ocean Wise National Dialogue on Plastics Writers Retreat

    The youth truly are the future. They are the upcoming consumers, influencers, and change makers of the world.

    Through programs like the National Dialogue the students are given the opportunity to educate themselves and empower others to make a difference for their future; and these students are seizing the opportunity.

    Students across Canada met at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise Initiative, for the Writers Retreat. Under the guidance of the Centre for Global Education Coordinators, the students developed their knowledge and worked collaboratively with each other and their communities to develop real solutions to the plastic problem. Over the course of the weekend, the students sifted through all of the conversations from the virtual meetings, the online classroom, and the data collected during the Virtual Town Hall.

    Based on this information, the youth created a draft white paper that will be presented to a governing body in Canada. The document contains the policy, practice and societal changes that the youth of Canada believe the country should take in order to affect the impacts of plastic pollution. Education was the highest priority amongst the students, with policy change also a key part of the students’ recommended strategy.


    To Catch a Falling Sky: Keynote Speaker Series

    A conversation series exploring challenges and solutions for water, energy and food resources

    The main theme behind the “To Catch a Falling Sky series” is to present endeavours that inspire hope as actions for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. This particular conversation series exposed cutting-edge scientific discovery and research on the future of energy, water and food. High profile and outstanding speakers, including First Nations community members, engaged with the audience with interactive discussions following their keynote presentations and comments from the panelists, allowing for vibrant discourse around critical and sometimes controversial topics related to climate, sustainability and resource scarcity.

    The format of each event was a keynote speech, followed by comments from expert panelists and then a moderated discussion with the audience. The events took place in the Science Theatre at Science World and were the first two events in the series, produced by Science World BC in partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Pacific Water Research Centre (PWRC).


    Research Zone

    The NRCan – Science Outreach and Engagement Grant allowed TELUS World of Science to run two cohorts of students through their Research Zone program.

    Participants learned about guests’ motivations for visiting an informal learning institution (ILI), how learning takes place at an ILI, and facilitation strategies for engaging with the general public. In addition, students were supported in building their own hands- on, table-top activity that connected to their own work.

    The NRCan Science Outreach and Engagement Grant allowed four unique science communication programs to be supported in the 2018/19 year. The programs ranged from workshops to keynote speakers to outreach activities, all aiming to accomplish the goal of communicating science to a wider audience.

    By funding these programs, science centres were able to expand and provide novel and profound experiences for people from diverse backgrounds. Feedback from the students participating in the programs indicate a newfound understanding for data collection, science communication, and the issues facing Canada’s natural resources, whereas guests visiting the science centres for outreach events and talks felt a greater appreciation about the scientific topics presented. The programs were also beneficial to the participating scientists themselves, as they felt fulfilled because they were able to connect with an audience that they would not normally. As a result, the NRCan Science Outreach and Engagement Grant strengthened the connection between scientists and the public, setting the stage for the future of science communication in Canada through inspiration, education, and engagement.

    The CASC office is situated in Robinson Huron Treaty territory and the land on which we learn and live is the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. We strive for reconciliation by working to transform existing relationships to emphasize open dialogue, mutual understanding and respectful collaborations.

    ©2019 Canadian Association of Science Centres