Public Education and Dissemination
The following is a smattering of the numerous groups and organizations working to promote and support research and innovation in Alberta.
Alberta Inventors Gateway
Taking an idea from a concept to market can be a daunting and difficult task. Each year, thousands of inventions fall by the wayside while only a select few become commercially successful. For Alberta inventors struggling to get their gadgets into production, the Alberta Inventors Gateway offers information and advice for every step of the inventive process.
Owned by Economic Development Edmonton and sponsored by the Innovation Centre, the website gives a frank glimpse into what it takes to make a saleable product. Experienced individuals from both the private and public sectors provide content with advice on business issues, market demand and determining the worth of an invention.
Sections warn inventors of the potential pitfalls of finance and copyright and give advice about how to protect themselves from fraudulent promotional firms that promise instant success at a high price. In addition, a library of resources is available with links and contacts to people who can assist the fledgling inventor.
Alberta SuperNet is the provincial government's ambitious and innovative $295 million high-speed, broadband infrastructure project intended to address the digital divide that exists between urban and rural Alberta. Eyes and ears around the world are on Alberta's SuperNet efforts, largely due to the sheer extent of the network, with a 13,000-kilometre fibre optic and wireless network covering the entire province and providing access to the high-speed network to the province's schools, health facilities, libraries and provincial government officesapproximately 4,700 facilities in 422 communities.
To be completed in 2004, the network will provide schools in Alberta communities large and small with the opportunity to network with each other, share resources, content, curriculum and expertise. It will enable health facilities and health practitioners across the province to do the same
thing: to communicate, share and collaborate, benefiting diagnosis, treatment and patient care.
In addition to these and other benefits to the public facilities connected to Alberta SuperNet, the network has an exciting and far-reaching business growth and development dynamic to it. The network's bandwidth is available for purchase by service providers in SuperNet communities where no broadband service exists today, providing them with the necessary infrastructure over which to run high-speed services and applications to businesses and residences.
Alberta SuperNet attests to the Alberta government's continuing commitment to providing Albertans with the tools necessary to flourish in the world's changing economy, education, health and business environments.
Calgary Science Centre
The Calgary Science Centre provides a variety of unique programs, like "Invent an Alien" and the quirky "TECHhead" competitions, for Alberta teachers and students. It is also home to the Discovery Dome, the first North American multimedia theatre. Each of their interactive exhibits, presentations, demonstrations and courses are designed to educate the general public about scientific discovery. Teachers have access to science specific resources and can organize class field trips to the center.
One of the most popular offerings of the Calgary Science Centre is the Chevron Open Minds Science School. As part of this unique program, students and teachers spend a week immersed in "innovative learning" in environments like the Glenbow Museum, the Calgary Zoo and the Science Centre. The goal is to provide hands-on learning that expands knowledge and gives students valuable critical thinking skills.
OdyssiumEdmonton Space and Science Centre
Odyssium strives to enrich community appreciation of science and technology through exploration and education. Through industry partnerships and leading-edge science and technology displays and workshops, they Edmonton Space and Science Center includes in its guiding principles a commitment to challenging Albertans to "recognize the importance of science and technology to their personal and professional lives." On the Syncrude Science Stage, students and visitors are provided with demonstrations that explore everything from cryogenics to comets. Courses and workshops target science buffs of all ages, and extensive school programs allow educators to bring students to the center where they can use the Dow Computer Lab, wander through the Epcor Environment Gallery and try their radio skills in the Amateur Radio Station located outside the popular Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre.
Science and Technology Week in Alberta
In this weeklong innovation-centred event, Alberta students are introduced to the provinces top researchers, science institutions and discoveries. Their extensive website has many resources including links to organizations and career descriptions and planning websites. Students can also try their hand at Flash games, an online scavenger hunt before cruising to a site with strange and fun experiments provided by Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA).
Science Outreach Athabasca
Using "hands-on" activities and volunteers with a keen interest in science, Science OutreachAthabasca promotes community activities related to science and public awareness. Currently, they are supported by both Athabasca University and Alberta Science and Innovation. Science Outreach Kids is a branch of the organization that targets school age children in the Athabasca region. They provide links to a number of online resources and games, including sites that provide science fair ideas and information about science camps and magazines.
Technology for Success
An annual trade fair and symposium "Technology for Success" is a showcase for new developments in the advanced technology community. First held in 1997, it provides an opportunity for the business community to explore innovation opportunities emerging in Edmonton. Exhibitors and presenters represent a broad range of industries including nano-technology, biotechnology, technology transfer, agrifoods, information technology and new media. In addition to marketing companies and developers, many government and educational institutions also take part in the event. All organizations share a common interest in innovation and technology.
WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology)
Attending a science conference in 1982, Dr. J. Gordon Kaplan noticed something unsettling. In a room packed with his peers, he could pick out only one woman. Concerned with the low female population at many educational institutions, Dr. Kaplan established the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) at the University of Alberta. Since its inception, WISEST has created three unique programs designed to encourage young women to choose science as a career path.
Choices is a workshop for grade six girls held on the University campus each year during Reading Week. Four students are chosen from each participating school; the girls take part in experiments and group activities designed to show that science can be fun and interesting. Young women in grades 9-12 can attend SET, a similar program that gives participants a chance to explore the faculty of science as a post-secondary option. Students are given a chance to participate in group activities and demonstrations and meet with women scientists in the fields they are interested in.
The Summer Research Program was first established in 1984. It allows a select group of young women from across Alberta to team up with U of A scientists and assist them in ongoing research projects. Each summer, around 50 students are chosen based on their academic standing and references to take part in the six-week program. They are matched with a project that fits their interests and future plans. The young scientists are paid a salary for their work, and are able to return to school with a better idea of what it is like to be a scientist.
Each of these programs is designed to spark interest and encourage young women to further explore the scientific fields. WISEST has enjoyed great success and a steady growth since it began more than 20 years ago. In addition to planting inspiration in the young women of Alberta, the program ensures that the pursuit of greater innovations and the inventive spirit will remain for generations to come.
Science Alberta Foundation
The Science Alberta Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with industry and community leaders to support and promote educational programs throughout the province. Launched in Calgary in 1989, the foundation does not operate from an actual facility, but rather through a strong network of knowledge workers, volunteers, researchers, and individuals and groups committed to the promotion of science education.
They focus primarily on provided resource and educational materials. They are directly involved in a number of outreach programs including science festivals, workshops and travelling exhibitions. Through the popular "Science in a Crate" program, they provide learning activities and supplies to the doorsteps of Alberta educators to assist with hands-on learning. "Real Life, Real Science" is an online program that examines modern science issues and discoveries.
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