Science Literacy Week at SFU

Science Literacy Week is a Canada-wide celebration of science. This year it ran from September 21 to 27. Founded in 2014 by University of Toronto alumnus Jesse Hildebrand, the week has more that 100 institutions across the country participating and offering a suite of nearly 300 events. This was the SFU Library’s first year participating and we had a great time pulling together book displays, videos, and events to celebrate science at SFU and beyond. To encourage students to find fun science books to read, we highlighted some gems in our collection with book & DVD displays at SFU Burnaby and SFU Surrey. The displays included book recommendations written by SFU community members, a playlist of science YouTube videos playing on loop, and posters on which students could respond to the question “Why do you love science?” You can see some of the recommended books online.

SFU Library hosted several unique events to support Science Literacy Week. In partnership with the Department of Chemistry, the W.A.C. Bennett Library (Burnaby campus) hosted an event where students could analyze the composition of everyday objects using infrared spectroscopy. Students and staff stopped by the infrared spectrometer to scan and analyze a wide variety of items, including a $10 bill, clothing, lettuce and a human thumb. Dr. Vance Williams and Kris Mihalic from the Department of Chemistry helped visitors understand what the scans meant and how the machine worked.

Together with Evidence for Democracy, we hosted a screening of Silence of the Labs, a documentary about the changing landscape of public funding for scientific research in Canada. Pamela Zevit from Evidence for Democracy provided an introduction to the film and co-facilitated a discussion with Dr. Arne Mooers from the SFU Department of Biological Sciences about the impact funding changes will have on our ability to make evidence-based decisions in the future. The event drew students, staff and community members.

Science Literacy Week also brought Grade 2 and 3 students from the University Highlands Elementary School to the Bennett Library. They came for a workshop on Earth Sciences provided by Science AL!VE, an SFU student-run science education program. Students learned about volcanoes and the layers of Earth, making plasticine models.


Lastly, the Trottier Observatory and Science Courtyard hosted an event called Starry Nights @ SFU in celebration of Science Literacy Week. Held on September 27, this event was timed to coincide with the total lunar eclipse. Attendees could see the illuminated seasonal star charts and other features in the courtyard area, and view Saturn and other celestial objects in the observatory telescope. The event drew a large crowd, including many families and community members.

We’re already thinking about what we will do for next year’s event, which runs September 19-25, 2016. For more information about Science Literacy Week and how to join in, check out scienceliteracy.ca.


Elyse Neufeld is the Life Sciences Librarian at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.
Jenna Thomson is the Physical Sciences Librarian at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.