The FOSTER Science Program
The FOSTER (Faculty Of Science Trips to Experience Real) Science Program is an educational outreach program within Memorial University’s Faculty of Science focused on enhancing hands-on experimental science teaching and learning for students at all grade levels across the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The fundamental objective of our program is to incite curiosity in young people by connecting with them through real science, by means of hands-on, exploratory, and stimulating science activities. The intent is to pique students’ interest toward further education and future opportunities in science while promoting scientific literacy. Our vision extends beyond young people themselves and includes their mentors as motivators who will help to shape future choices.
The FOSTER science program was launched on account of a unique public outreach project involving the visit of two high school groups, of 30 students each, to the Department of Biochemistry labs in the spring of 2017. Based on the success and unique nature of this project to align with and support provincial science curriculum outcomes within grade schools and uniting with the Department of Chemistry, efforts were initiated toward a sustained experiential hands-on science lab field trip program for junior high school groups within and surrounding the St. John’s metropolitan area.
Click the link to access the MUN Gazette article published in 2017 highlighting the visits of Holy Heart and O’Donel High School groups to the Department of Biochemistry labs in 2017.
The resulting FOSTER Science Program witnessed tremendous growth as a result of these efforts with 750 students and teachers from four different junior high schools visiting labs within Biochemistry and Chemistry for a hands-on experimental lab experience in the spring of 2018. Further partnerships with teachers and administrators within the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD), financial support contributed from each of the departments involved in the program as well as the Dean’s Office in the Faculty of Science, an Accelerator Grant obtained from Memorial’s Office of Public Engagement and expansion to include visits to the Department of Biology labs, the FOSTER Science Program was delighted to host over 1600 students and teachers from 13 different junior high schools from across the Avalon region of Newfoundland in the form of field trip lab visits in the Spring of 2019.
Continued Program Growth and Development
With the intention for continued growth within the FOSTER Science Program and having to place personal visits to the university labs on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions for the spring seasons of 2020 and 2021, the FOSTER Science Program has been motivated to take the opportunity to broaden hands-on scientific teaching and learning beyond the immediate area of the greater St. John’s metropolitan area and the Avalon Peninsula. The approach to this initiative has resulted in the development of teaching resources in the sciences including hands-on experiments and interactive demonstrations using household materials made accessible to teachers and which enhance and reinforce curriculum outcomes outlined by NLESD. Furthermore, video profiles of scientists within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador highlighting their current employment and career path are available for teachers to further promote scientific literacy within the province.
Please feel free to investigate each aspect of the program using the links in the side menu.