National Science and Technology Week Sets Guinness World Record

OTTAWA, January 28, 2013 – National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) 2012 saw a lot of science being done across Canada. A record amount of science, as it turns out.

Guinness World Records has confirmed that Canada has set the world record for the largest practical science lesson at multiple venues. On October 12, 2012, at 1:00 p.m. EST, two experiments demonstrating the Bernoulli principle were performed simultaneously at 88 different locations such as classrooms, science centres and museums across Canada. The experiments involved a total of 13,701 participants.

“Congratulations to all of the participants and organizers for setting this new world record,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “Making science interesting for people of all ages – especially young Canadians – is key to fostering innovative thinking and creating Canada’s future science leaders.”

“Canada’s enthusiasm for science and learning is being recognized on a world scale and Natural Resources Canada is proud to have played an important role in this remarkable achievement,” said Geoff Munro, Chief Scientist, Natural Resources Canada. ”Every opportunity to promote the value and excitement of science is a worthwhile endeavour and should be celebrated.”

“We are extremely proud that public participation in National Science and Technology Week 2012 was so high as to set a new Guinness World Record,” said Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC) CEO Denise Amyot. “All National Science and Technology Week partner organisations, as well as the various schools and venues who took part in the experiments, deserve well-earned congratulations for their tireless efforts to awaken Canadians of all ages to the wonders of science. Gathering close to 14,000 Canadians doing science at the same time across the country is a worthy challenge, but it illustrates how much Canadians are fascinated by science, and that is wonderful news.”

The Guinness World Record-setting practical science lesson was coordinated across Canada by Science.gc.ca, the Government of Canada’s official science portal, and one of numerous partners of NSTW, for which the CSTMC is the national coordinator. The CSTMC hosted a group participating in the record-setting science lesson at the Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM), and Natural Resources Canada also hosted a participating group as well.

NSTW raises awareness about the importance of science and technology in today’s world, celebrating Canada’s historic and ongoing role as a leader in innovation.

To find out more about the NSTW record attempt, visit : http://www.science.gc.ca/newrecord

To find out more about the Guinness world Records certification, visit :
http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/2000/largest-practical-science-lesson-%28multiple-venues%29

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INFORMATION:
Olivier Bouffard
Media relations
Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation
613-949-5732
obouffard@technomuses.ca

David Provencher
Press Secretary
Office of Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources
613-996-2007

National Science and Technology Week Sets Guinness World Record

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Ask a Scientist: Venus

Question: Why does Venus rotate backwards?

Short answer: No one really knows.

Longer answer: There are a couple of leading theories on this issue:

(1) One might expect that a planet will spin in the same direction as it travels because it formed from a disk of material that was rotating in that direction early in the Solar System. However, in the late stages of planet formation, the planets experience impacts with fairly large bodies called ‘planetesimals’, and if one of these planetesimals hits the planet at a glancing angle, it can knock it over (technical term: apply a torque) thereby changing its spin axis. If this is the case, then the final spin direction of a planet will be related to the way it was knocked about in the last stages of planet formation. This theory is also used to explain why Uranus’ spin axis is tilted perpendicular to most of the other planets (its spin axis is in the plane of the solar system) and why the other planets in the solar system have a variety of different spin axis angles (for example, Earth’s spin axis is tilted about 23 degrees from the plane of the solar system).

(2) A planet has to conserve its total angular momentum, which is directly related to its net spin axis. The net spin axis is made up of the spin axis of its core (the iron part of the planet) plus its mantle (the rocky part of the planet) plus its atmosphere. Because Venus is believed to have a liquid core (like the Earth does) and it has a thick atmosphere, its possible for friction forces to exchange angular momentum between the core and the mantle or between the atmosphere and the mantle. This can result in changing the spin axis of the mantle by changing the spin axes of the core and/or atmosphere. So it might be that interactions between the different layers of Venus have resulted in tilting the planet’s mantle so that the mantle is spinning retrograde. Its the mantle spin axis that we equate with the planet’s spin axis since that is the part that we see rotating. In order for this theory to work, it helps that Venus is a slow rotator (a day on Venus is 117 Earth days!).

-Sabine Stanley

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Ask a Scientist: Birds

If gravity pulls things down, how do birds fly?

Birds can overcome gravity because they have several body features that enable flight. Wings are essential to being able to fly, and an important aspect of the bird wing is its shape – the top is curved while the bottom is flat. Because of this, an air molecule needs to travel a greater distance as it passes over top of the wing than it does passing under it. This means that the air density above the wing is lower – the same number of air molecules is spread out over a larger distance. As a result, the bird is ‘sucked up’ by the vacuum above the wing. Feathers help to fine-tune the movement of air around the wings.

That explains how birds can fly up, but how do they move forward? They do so by flapping their wings. To move their wings, birds contract the breast muscles, which are very large, and which are attached to their breastbone.

This of course only works if the bird is not too heavy, and birds have indeed evolved some characteristics that make them much lighter than – say – a dog of similar size. For example, their bones are hollow, and they do not have teeth, and as you will know, feathers are very light, too. What’s interesting is that some birds that migrate over long-distances can shrink the size of their stomach before they depart on their journey – this way, they don’t have to carry so much weight. When they arrive and start to eat again, they just grow the stomach back to normal size. Neat, hey?

Why do birds feed their young insects and worms?

In order to grow, you need a lot of protein (meat, eggs, beans and such). This is also the case for young birds, and insects and worms contain a lot of protein, so that’s why the parent birds feed it to their young.

-Silke Nebel

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Government of Canada Highlights IDRC’s Efforts in Fighting Hunger in Guatemala

A Canadian project designed to supply the science needed to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition in Guatemala was launched in that country by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (the Americas), the Honourable Diane Albonczy, in early December. The 3-year, $450,000 project is supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Crown corporation which supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development.

Geoff Regan (MP), Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Geoff Regan (MP), Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Minister Ablonczy announced the project while speaking at a round table on food security in Guatemala City accompanied by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. IDRC Senior Program Specialist, Renaud De Plaen, was among the experts invited to participate. In his presentation, De Plaen spoke about how food security indicators in Guatemala have not improved in twenty years, in part because national and international investments too often ignored the importance of small scale agriculture and research in informing food security policies ─ something the IDRC project seeks to change.

Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, David Johnston

Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, David Johnston

The project brings leading researchers from Canada’s McGill University together with those of Guatemala’s Rafael Landívar University’s Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to address food insecurity in a country where 25% of the population is malnourished and one-in-every-two children don’t have enough nutritious food to eat.

The researchers will focus on four test areas in Guatemala to identify, measure, and compare the impact of particular policies and practices on food security and nutrition to determine which have proven most effective, especially in the area of small-scale agriculture. The results will be used to help guide future investment decisions by the Guatemalan government, national and international donors, and the private sector.

The project ─ one of several food security initiatives funded by IDRC in the Americas – is helping to meet the Government of Canada’s Food Security Strategy as well as make good on its commitment to strengthening ties in the hemisphere as best expressed in Canada’s Americas Strategy.

Geoff Regan, Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Geoff Regan, Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Read the government’s news release

Learn more about the project in English, French, or Spanish.

Learn more about IDRC.

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Grand Challenges Canada: Stars in Global Health

 The Stars in Global Health program enables innovators in low- and lower-middle-income countries and the Canadian International Development Agencies (CIDA) ‘Countries of Focus’ as well as in Canada, to develop their bold ideas with big impact to improve global health conditions.

The program was developed to tap into innovative ideas from leaders in global health and consists of proof-of-concept awards of $100,000 CAD as Phase I grants, and Phase II Transition to Scale funding to successful applicants for up to $1,000,000 CAD.

Since July 2011, Grand Challenges Canada has approved over 100 Phase I proof-of-concept grants, each at $100,000 CAD. These projects run across the whole spectrum of global health, from drug discovery, vaccine development, health and medical education, maternal and child health, non-communicable diseases (including cancer), health-related water and agriculture, information communication technologies and behavioural change.

Phase I grantees who have completed a minimum of nine months of their Grand Challenges Canada grant, completed their proof-of-concept projects and will have solutions that are ready to transition to scale are invited to submit Phase II Transition to Scale proposals. Phase II Transition to Scale grants will require 50% matching through partnerships to be eligible for Grand Challenges Canada funding.

Round 5 Phase I – Proposal Deadline is February 6, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

For more information about the Stars in Global Health Request for Proposals and eligibility criteria, please click here.

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Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield Lifts Off For Expedition 34/35

Today, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Chris Hadfield launched on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:12 a.m. EST.

The crew comprised of Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, will rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday. They will spend 147 days in orbit before their scheduled landing on the 14th of May, 2013.

“Canada has a proud legacy in space and the International Space Station is a global showcase for our world renowned robotics technology and expertise,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the CSA. “In March, we will mark another important milestone, as astronaut Hadfield becomes the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station.”

Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield Lifts Off For Expedition 34/35

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Ask a Scientist: Moss

Question: Does moss only grow on the north side of trees?

Answer: The simple answer is “no”. But things in ecology are usually more complex than this and there are some good scientific reasons behind the old Boy Scout advice to find north by looking for which side of the tree has moss. This is because moss tends to prefer to grow in cooler, moister environments. In the northern hemisphere, south-facing surfaces tend to be warmer and drier than north-facing ones. Thus, the north side of a tree is likely to be more favourable for moss growth.

However, if you were lost in the woods, checking for moss on just a single tree would not necessarily be a reliable way to identify where north is. If the tree is located in a shady area or in a depression where it is damp and dark, then it is more likely that moss will be found around the entire tree since more of the trunk area is good growing conditions for moss. There are other factors that influence how moss is distributed on a tree – these include tree species, tree diameter, and competition for other mosses, as well as lichens and liverworts. However, if you take a large sample of trees over a reasonably big area, and measure the density of moss on the north vs. south sides of all the trees, it is quite likely that you will find a higher amount of moss growing on the north side of the trees, averaged across all your samples. But you won’t find an absence of moss on the south sides of the trees either. So, if you’re hiking in the woods, and worried about getting lost, it’s probably best to just carry a compass.

-Yolanda Wiersma

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Creating Jobs and Opportunities in the North

Canada’s Economic Action Plan is contributing $142.4 million over six years (starting in 2012) to construct and equip the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. CHARS will be a year-round, multi-disciplinary facility on the cutting edge of research into environmental and resource development issues.

Canada will also provide $46.2 million over six years (starting in 2012) for the CHARS Science and Technology Program. This program will foster sound social, economic and environmental stewardship of the Arctic through traditional and solutions-driven initiatives. Work with Aboriginal, academic, government and industry partners will be key to the Station’s success.

Transcripts

Inuinnaqtun

Nipiliugat:

Uvanga Nick Xenos. Hivuliqtiuyunga tapkunani Ukiuqtaqtumi Naunaiyaiyit Maligait havaktungalu hamani Gatineau-mi.

Ikaluktutiak niguaqtauyuq qaphinut piplugu. Hivuliqpamik, piqaqtuq nakuuqpiaqtunik naunaiyainiqmut piluaqnaqtuliqutinutlu pilaqninut, angutikhaqaqpiaqhuni, nuahimayuqauqhuni, allatqit, piqaqhunilu nakuuyumik maniliugutinut pivaliatitni pilaqnit. Tamnalu nunaliit avikhimaninut tikittaqviupluni tamatkiknut aulagutit aulatyutitlu. Tapkuat Kavamatkut Nunavutmi piqaqtut nunaliit avikhimaninut aapisitnik talvani. Piqaqtuq allatqinik aulattiyit katimayit tapkuatut Nunavut Avatiligiyit Katimayit, Nunavut Parnaiyiit Kamisat, taoimatut nakuuyumik katutyiqatigit timiuyut.

Piqaqhunilu nunaliit avikhimaniani aaniaqvikmik nunaliit avikhimanianilu ilihaqtuligiyinik havakvik tamnalu Nunavut Ukiuqtaqtumi Hilattuqhaivik. Piqaqtugut nanminiq hanatyuhikhaliuqtimik havaktit tapkuat niguaqniaqtat hanatyuhikhai taphuma hannavik. Tamna hannavik piniaq hilaqyuaqmi nakuuyutigut havakvik Kanataup Ukiuqtaqtuani taimaittumik ilaqaqniaq hunanik tapkuatut allatqit naunaiyaivit, tpiluaqnaqtuliqutit pivalianinutlu havakvik, ilitquhit ilihimani inikha, aapisit inikha, katimavik inikha, atuqtauvaktutlu iglukhat nayugauyukhatlu.

Tamna naunaiyainiq piluaqnaqtuliqutitlu havagut talvani naunaiyaivik havakvik pinahauqniaq hitamani tapkuninga: atuqtitnit nunataqhimaniq, piqaqnit pivaliatitni, avatiliqutit hilaplu ahianguqni, tapkuatlu hakugiktumik nakuunitlu nunaliuyut. AUlaniaq tualuni tatqiqhiutini ukiunganut, tamna ayyikkutaittuq pihimania, piniaqhutiklu naunaiyainiq piluaqnaqtuliqutitlu naunaiyaqni, munaginit ilihaqniqlu pinahauqtitni. Taimatut piyumaqpiaqtugut pipkaqni nutaqat aliahutigini tahapkuat naunaiyainiq piluaqnaqtuliqutitlu. Allatqit inuit atuqniaqtat tamna havakvik; ilalu ukiuqtaqtumiut pilaqniaqtat atquni nutanguqpiaqtut-hanahimanit havagutit tapkuat Ukiuqtaqtumitniat, tapkuat ilihaqniqmut ilauvaktut, naunaiyaiyit hilattuqhaiviknit quyagitnaq nunaqyuaqmit, tapkuat inmiguqtut ilauni, naunaiyagumagumityuk nutat hanahimayut nutatlu pitquhit piyauninut tahamani Ukiuqtaqtumi, una nakuqpiaqniaq piyauninut tahapkuat. Tapkuat hilaqyuaqmi ilauyut piyumaqpiaqniat, ilalu kavamatkut naunaiyaiyit. Piqaqniaqlu inmingnit havaktikhat naunaiyaiyit tahapkuat talvanitniat Ikaluktutiakmi. Ihumayunga una alianaqpiaqtuq pilaqnikha Kanatamut hilaqyuaqmutlu pihimania hilaqyuaqmiunut nakuutiginia havakvik tahamani Ukiuqtaqtumi naunaiyaiyukhat qanugiliugahuaqninut ukiuqtaqtup pityutai kihimikluttauq hilaqyuami pityutauyutluttauq.

 Inuktitut

ᑎᑎᕋᖅᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᑦ:

ᐊᑎᖃᖅᑐᖓ ᓂᒃ ᔩᓅᔅ, ᑐᑭᒧᐊᒃᑎᐅᔪᖓ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᐃᓂᒻᒪᕆᖕᒧᑦ ᐊᑐᐊᒐᕐᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᖅᑲᓇᐃᔭᖅᑐᖓ ᑳᑦᓄ.

ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑦᑎᐊᖅ ᓂᕈᐊᕆᓯᒪᔭᕋ ᐅᓄᖅᑐᓂᒃ ᐱᔾᔪᑎᖃᖅᖢᖓ. ᓯᕗᓪᓕᖅᐋᖅ, ᐅᓇ ᐱᐅᓛᒥᒃ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕈᑎᒻᒪᕆᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᑖᓂᒃ ᐱᓕᕆᔾᔪᑎᖃᖅᖢᓂ, ᐅᓇᓗ ᓂᕐᔪᑎᖃᑦᑎᐊᖅᑐᖅ, ᐱᕈᖅᑐᖃᑦᑎᐊᖅᑐᖅ, ᐊᔾᔨᒌᓐᖏᑑᑎᑦ, ᐅᓇ ᐱᐅᓛᓂᒃ ᑮᓇᐅᑎᒍᑦ ᒪᑭᒪᓚᓱᐊᕈᑎᖃᑦᑎᐊᕈᓐᓇᖅᓗᑎᒃ. ᐅᓇᑦᑕᐅᖅ ᐊᕕᒃᑐᖅᓯᒪᔪᓂ ᐃᓂᒋᔭᐅᔪᖅ ᑕᒪᐃᓐᓂᒃ ᐃᖏᕐᕋᔾᔪᑎᓕᕆᓂᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᐅᓚᑦᑎᕕᐅᓪᓗᓂ. ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᒐᕙᒪᒃᑯᑦ ᐊᕕᒃᑐᖅᓯᒪᔪᒥᖕᓄᑦ ᑕᐃᑲᓂ ᑎᑎᕋᕐᕕᖃᖅᑐᑦ. ᑕᐃᒪᓗ ᐊᔾᔨᒌᓐᖏᑑᑎ ᐱᖁᔭᕋᓛᓕᐅᖅᑎᑦ ᑲᑎᒪᔩᑦ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᐱᕙᓪᓕᐊᓂᖓᑕ ᐊᒃᑐᖅᑕᐅᔪᓐᓇᕐᓂᖓᓄᑦ ᕿᒥᕐᕈᔩᑦ, ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᐸᕐᓇᐅᔩᑦ, ᐅᑯᐊᓗ ᐃᐅᔪᒥᒃ ᐱᓇᓱᐊᖃᑎᒌᒃᑐᑦ ᐊᐅᓚᑦᓯᔩᑦ.

ᑕᐃᑲᓂᓗ ᐊᕕᒃᑐᖅᓯᒪᔪᓄᑦ ᐋᓐᓂᐊᕕᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᕕᒃᑐᖅᓯᒪᔪᓄᑦ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒧᑦ ᓯᓚᑦᑐᖅᓴᕐᕕᖓ. ᐱᖃᖅᑐᒍᑦᑕᐅᖅ ᓇᖕᒥᓂᖁᑎᖃᖅᑐᑦ ᐃᒡᓗᓕᐅᖅᑎᑦ ᐅᑯᐊᓗ ᓂᕈᐊᖑᓯᒪᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᓴᓇᖁᓪᓗᒋᑦ ᐃᓂᒃᓴᑦᑎᓂᒃ. ᐅᓇ ᐃᓂᒋᓂᐊᖅᑕᕗᑦ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᒥ ᑲᔾᔮᓇᕆᐊᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᑲᓇᑕᐅᑉ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᐊᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓚᖃᖅᓗᓂ ᖃᓄᕆᑦᑐᑐᐃᓐᓇᓂᒃ ᐊᔾᔨᒌᓐᖏᑦᑐᓂᒃ ᕿᖑᒥᒐᐃᕕᖕᓂ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕐᕕᒻᒪᕆᖕᓂᒃ, ᓄᑖᓂ ᐱᓕᕆᔾᔪᑕᐅᓕᖅᑐᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐱᕙᓪᓕᐊᑎᑦᑎᕕᖃᕐᓗᓂ, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᑐᖃᖏᑦ ᐃᓂᖃᑦᑎᐊᖅᓗᓂ, ᑎᑎᕋᕐᕕᖃᕐᓗᓂ, ᑲᑎᒪᕕᖃᕐᓗᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᖏᕐᕋᕆᔭᐅᓗᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑐᔪᕐᒥᕕᐅᔪᓐᓇᕐᓗᓂ.

ᐅᑯᐊ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕐᓂᒻᒪᕆᖕᒧᑦ ᓄᑖᓂᒡᓗ ᐱᓕᕆᑎᑦᑎᔪᑕᐅᔪᑦ ᑕᐃᑲᓂ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕐᕕᖕᒥ ᐱᓕᕆᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᐅᑯᓂᖓ: ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᖅ ᓄᓇᒋᔭᐅᔪᓐᓇᕐᓂᖓᓄᑦ, ᐃᑲᔫᑎᓂᒃ ᐱᕙᓪᓕᐊᑎᑦᑎᓂᖅ, ᓯᓚᑎᑦᑎᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓯᓚᐅᑉ ᐅᖂᓯᕙᓪᓕᐊᓂᖓᓄᑦ ᐊᓯᑦᔨᕐᓂᖓ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᖕᖏᔪᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᖃᓄᐃᓐᖏᑦᑐᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᓄᓇᓖᑦ. ᐊᐅᓚᑕᐅᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ 12 ᑕᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᕐᕌᒍᓕᒫᒥ, ᐅᓇᓗ ᐊᔾᔨᐅᓐᖏᑐᒥᒃ ᐋᕿᒃᓯᒪᔪᖅ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕆᐊᖃᖅᑐᓂᒃ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᖅᓯᖃᑦᑕᕐᓗᑎᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᑖᓂ ᐱᓕᕆᔾᔪᑕᐅᓕᖅᑐᓂᒃ, ᒥᐊᓂᕆᓂᖅ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᐃᑲᓐᓂᕐᓂᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᐅᔪᓐᓇᕐᓗᓂ. ᑕᐃᒪᐃᒻᒪᑦ ᐊᒃᓱᕉᑎᖃᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᒍᑦ ᓄᑕᖃᑦ ᐊᓱᕉᑎᖃᓕᕈᓐᓴᕐᓂᐊᕐᒪᑕ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᐃᓂᒻᒪᕆᖕᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᑖᓂᒃ ᐱᓕᕆᔾᔪᑕᐅᓕᖅᑐᓂᒃ. ᐅᑯᐊ ᖃᓄᕆᑦᑐᑐᐃᓐᓇᐃᑦ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐊᑐᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᐃᓂᖓᓂ; ᑖᒃᑯᐊᓗ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥᐅᑦ ᐊᑐᕈᓐᓴᕐᓂᐊᕐᒥᔭᖓ ᓴᓇᑦᑎᐊᖅᓯᒪᓂᖅᐸᐅᔪᖅ ᓴᓇᕐᕈᑎᖃᕐᕕᓖᑦ ᐱᖁᑎᓖᑦ, ᐅᑯᐊᓗ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ, ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᐅᔪᒥᒃ ᓄᓇᓕᖕᓂ, ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕐᑎᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᒃᔪᐊᓂᑦ ᓇᓂᑐᐃᓐᓇᖅ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ, ᓇᖕᒥᓂᐊᕐᑎᐅᔪᓂᑦ, ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕈᒪᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᓄᑖᓂ ᐱᒃᓴᒥᖕᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᑖᓂᒃ ᐱᓕᕆᔾᔪᑕᐅᓕᖅᑐᓂᒃ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ, ᐅᓇ ᐃᓂᖃᕐᕕᑦᑎᐊᕙᐅᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ.  ᐅᓇ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᒥ ᓄᓇᓕᖕᓂᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᕕᐅᔪᒪᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ, ᒐᕙᒪᒃᑯᓪᓗ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕐᑎᖏᑦ. ᑕᐃᒪᓗ ᐃᓗᐊᓂ ᓴᓇᔨᐅᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕐᑎᑦ ᐃᓂᖃᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑦᑎᐊᒥ. ᐃᓱᒪᔪᖓ ᐅᓇ ᖁᕕᐊᓇᑦᑎᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᐱᕕᖃᕐᑎᑦᑎᔪᖅ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᒥ ᐱᐅᓂᖅᐹᖅ ᐃᓂᖓ ᐃᒡᓗᖁᑎᖓ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ ᖃᐅᔨᓴᐃᔪᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᔪᓪᓗ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᖅ ᐱᔾᔪᑎᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᒥᑦᑕᐅᖅ ᐱᔾᔪᑕᐅᔪᓂᒃ.

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Strengthening Canada’s Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension

There is no single solution to maximize the presence and potential of women in university research, concludes Expert Panel

Ottawa (November 21st, 2012) – An in-depth, authoritative assessment of women in university research has found that although there has been significant progress in the representation of women in the university research ranks, there are still gender equity challenges that must be overcome and the passage of time will not be enough to ensure parity.

A newly released report by the Council of Canadian Academies entitled, Strengthening Canada’s Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension provides an assessment of the the factors that influence university research careers of women. This assessment was requested by the Minister of Industry in the fall of 2010 after the notable absence of female candidates for the prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chairs program.

In response, the Council convened an expert panel of 15 Canadian and international experts from diverse fields who met over the course of approximately 18-months. The Panel was chaired by Dr. Lorna R. Marsden, President emeritus and Professor, York University, in Toronto. The Panel focussed on women in university research, and to conduct their assessment they used a life course model that allowed for an examination of the critical factors that impact career paths from the early years, through to post-secondary education and at different career stages.

“There is no single solution to remedy the underrepresentation of women in the highest ranks of academic research careers. The issue itself is a multifaceted one that is affected by social, cultural, economic, institutional, and political factors and contexts”, commented Panel Chair Dr. Lorna R. Marsden. “There has been significant progress in the representation of women in the academy since the 1970s, and there is much to be celebrated. However, as evidenced by the wide variation in women’s representation by discipline and rank, there are still challenges to overcome.”

The Expert Panel developed a baseline of information regarding the statistical profile of women researchers in Canada. The major findings from the statistical profile are:

  • In general, the Canadian profile is similar to that of other economically advanced nations.
  • Women’s progress in Canadian universities is uneven and dependent on discipline and rank.
  • The higher the rank, the lower the percentage of women in comparison to men.

The Panel also identified key factors that affect the multiple career paths of women.  These factors start early in life with stereotypes that define roles and expectations, followed by a lack of knowledge about requisites for potential career paths, and a lack of role models and mentors. These issues, combined with a rigid tenure track structure, challenges associated with the paid work-family life balance, and the importance of increased support and coordination amongst governments and institutions need to be examined if Canada is going to achieve a greater gender balance within academia.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President of the Council of Canadian Academies noted, “Although the Panel was constrained by a lack of data in some areas, they were able to identify critical factors that affect the career paths of women in university research. With this information now in-hand an informed Canadian conversation can take place regarding the persistent challenges that are preventing women in research from maximizing their presence and potential across all disciplines and ranks.”

To view the full report, visit http://www.scienceadvice.ca/.

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About the Council of Canadian Academies

The Council of Canadian Academies is an independent, not-for-profit organization that began operation in 2005. The Council supports evidence-based, expert assessments to inform public policy development in Canada. Assessments are conducted by independent, multidisciplinary panels of experts from across Canada and abroad. The Council’s blue-ribbon panels serve free of charge and many are Fellows of the Council’s Member Academies: the Royal Society of Canada; the Canadian Academy of Engineering; and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. The Council’s vision is to be Canada’s trusted voice for science in the public interest. For more information visit:  www.scienceadvice.ca

For more information please contact:

Cate Meechan
Director, Communications
Council of Canadian Academies
Cell: 613.302.6174 / Office: 613.567.5000 x 228
cathleen.meechan@scienceadvice.ca

 

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Recognition of World-changing Ideas

“A good idea can change the world.”  So says Neil Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and founder of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), who was recently named this year’s CBC Radio Massey Lecturer.

In a five-part radio broadcast on CBC’s national program Ideas, Turok explores the history of scientific discovery and the potential for quantum physics to change how we understand the universe. Among the revolutionary ideas he talks about is the AIMS initiative.

The initiative’s purpose is to help Africa produce and use science and technology for its development. AIMS recognizes that nearly one million students graduate from African universities each year, but high-level training in scientific and technical fields is generally unavailable.

AIMS is beginning to change that. The first AIMS centre launched in 2003 in Cape Town has already graduated more than 412 students, one-third women, from 33 countries. Over 87% have entered advanced master’s and doctoral programs.

Photo: AIMS-South Africa

The AIMS program puts students through rigorous training in mathematical problem-solving that prepares them to earn advanced degrees in the sciences. Mathematical sciences are, after all, the backbone of a modern economy. Solutions to complex challenges in health, agriculture, and finance, for example, all require advanced mathematical modelling skills.

In July 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a $20 million federal investment in AIMS.  That contribution ─ the largest at the time by a factor of 20 ─ is helping to open five AIMS centres in Africa. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Crown corporation committed to science and innovation for development, is managing the investment on the government’s behalf.

Together with Canadian universities, the private sector, and African governments, IDRC and the Government of Canada are working to prepare Africa’s best-and-brightest for advanced degrees in maths and science and perhaps helping the South African-born Turok realize his dream:  to have the world’s next Einstein come from Africa.

The Massey Lectures will be broadcast November 12-16 on CBC Ideas.  A book written by Turok, The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos, has been published to complement the broadcast.

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