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The Open Science Network (DIYbio Vcr) Message Board › The University Experience, Youth & Outreach

The University Experience, Youth & Outreach

user 7245090
Vancouver, BC
Post #: 1
As most of you probably know, UBC's second largest faculty is the Faculty of Science.

In an environment where students are not only intelligent but also involved with their community, passionate about the future of our Earth and competitive, it's not difficult to get overshadowed by others. 5 years ago, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had all of the above-mentioned attributes but I seem to have lost my "shine" in university. Perhaps I didn't immerse myself in "science" enough or maybe I just lost momentum after highschool. That's why I think it's really important to get our youth involved in the fun aspects of science.

I'm currently instructing at a local summer camp called Geneskool. It teaches youth Grades 9 and up about forensics and medical genetics. They get the awesome opportunity to work in a lab and gain some hands-on skills. I see first hand how excited they get about science, what great questions the propose and their potential.

Apart from helping out at Geneskool, I haven't really had the opportunity to delve myself into real science. Moreover, I'm completely intimidated by my professors. I feel myself shrinking and growing shy, afraid to make a stupid comment. It's not how I intend to be and it's certainly not how I want the camp participants to feel about their instructors. So I have a few questions for you guys;

1. How do you overcome this fear?
2. How else can I get involved with the scientific community? (Co-op isn't an option for me anymore since I'm about to graduate).

Also, if you have siblings, children or people you know who are in highschool, please tell them about Geneskool. It's truly an exciting opportunity and any Geneskool alumni can testify to that.
Michael Y.
user 10996074
Group Organizer
Vancouver, BC
Post #: 2
Dear Vinci,

Welcome and so sorry for the tardy reply. Everyone's been away, or working hard this summer so I'm sorry if you haven't received a reply yet.

That's really awesome work you are doing. It's vital to get the young crowd excited about science - too often it's dismissed as an unsexy topic, or more importantly taught improperly to the youth in school and it demoralizes them.

Two good contacts at UBC are David Ng and Eric Lagally, at the Michael Smith lab.

I feel your pain. One way to overcome fear with dealing with professors is to remember that they're not just giving exams or grading papers, so when they're teaching or giving office hours, it's YOUR time, you paid the tuition, you're the customer and it's up to you to get good service. Mind you, I dropped out of school because I found I could learn more from books than from lectures, and failed dismally in exams, so take that advice with as you see it.

Another way to think of it is is that it's better to ask too many questions until you get the right answer, rather than remaining silent and making a mistake in an exam.

Ah, and you ask a great question, how to get involved with the scientific community outside of academia.... keep reading...

One big thing that will help make life science more cool and more accessible is to make the tools of innovation more widely available. Just like how Silicon Valley emerged from the Homebrew Computing Club, where dedicated amateurs broke computing out of the big corporate/government labs, so too will new innovation allow both curious students and entrepreneurs break into the life science field. Just as the Silicon Valley crowd is led by alot of self-taught people, in the future we'll see life sciences more and more led by those who emerged from the non-academic routes.

A really great meetup group is the diybio org in San Francisco. They've rebranded themselves as Biocurious, and have a real lab in a garage in Silicon Valley! Alot of new technologies brewing there. For example, a handheld PCR machine that costs under $100, the Lava Amp - http://www.lava-amp.c...­

You can check biocurious out at:­

They're good friends of mine. Great crowd, and lots of energy. They're arranging a conference in Berkeley on new biohacking meme later this month, the meeting site is:

Check it out. I should be there. Feel free to email me back, or call me at 604-728-7847.
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