YES I Can! Science: Making Science Accessible & Engaging

As a cornerstone initiative in science education, “YES I Can! Science” made great strides in making science accessible, hands-on, and engaging for students of all ages. With its extensive resources, real-world projects, and passionate vision, this pioneering program left an indelible impact during its 14 years of enriching science learning.

ISS07 Project

About the Project

The seeds of “YES I Can! Science” were first planted in 1996 by the forward-thinking team of educators. With initial backing from Industry Canada, they set out to create a project aligned with national science education standards that would bring science to life for K-12 students.

Their vision was a searchable database brimming with science resources and materials to help educators make science relevant, accurate, and interesting. This central database would be supplemented by real-time collaborative projects to connect students directly with scientific applications and experts in the field.

Key Objectives: Literacy, Understanding, and Critical Thinking

At its heart, “YES I Can! Science” had three primary objectives:

  • To provide easy access to science resources and background materials through a centralized, searchable database.
  • To build a conceptual understanding of the foundational principles underlying science and technology.
  • To cultivate analytical thinking and problem-solving skills essential in a complex world.
science connection

By meeting these goals, the project hoped to instill science literacy and a passion for science learning, not just in the classroom but for life.

Initiatives Bringing Science to Life

Central to the impact of “YES I Can! Science” were the imaginative programs and initiatives that supplemented its resource database. These allowed students to actively participate in real-world science activities.

A cornerstone was the real-time collaborative projects that connected classrooms to scientific researchers and experts. Through live video conferences, message boards, and interactive platforms, students could dive deep into current science questions and innovations.

Some examples of these interactive projects included:

  • Live video calls with astronauts aboard the International Space Station to learn about life in zero gravity. Students could ask questions about spacewalks, science experiments, and day-to-day living in space.
  • Virtual expeditions to Antarctica, where students communicated with polar scientists carrying out climate change research. They could ask questions about ice core samples, weather balloon launches, and tracking penguin populations.
  • Engineering collaborations where students watched roboticists assemble Mars rovers and could ask questions about designing robots for space exploration.
  • Interviews with meteorologists about how hurricanes form and how they track and predict storms.
  • Projects where students collected local water samples and discussed water quality indicators with environmental engineers.
  • Astronomy projects where students could view live telescope images and talks about supernovas, comets, and new planetary discoveries.

By engaging directly with science professionals doing cutting-edge research, students gained exposure to real-world science challenges and innovations. The experiential nature of these collaborations brought science to life, nurturing students’ curiosity and passion.

Legacy Project Retires

After 14 phenomenal years, the “YES I Can! Science” team made the difficult decision in 2011 to retire the project. Having met their goals of making science engaging and accessible for students across North America, they felt it was time to turn to new endeavours.

The project left behind an unmatched legacy of quality science education and enriched learning. Its resources and approach to hands-on science served as a model for subsequent programs.

Recognition of Innovative Science Education

Over its 14 years, “YES I Can! Science” reaped accolades for its contributions to science literacy. These included:

  • Best Group Blog Award (Edublog Awards) for live polar science projects.
  • Best Use of Weblogs Award (Edublog Awards) for bringing Antarctica expeditions to life.
  • Featured Interactive Project (NSTA) for connecting students and experts.

The project’s innovative use of digital platforms made science learning participatory and engaging.

Inspiring a Passion for Science Discovery

While the formal “YES I Can! Science” program has retired, its legacy continues. For over a decade, it connected students with relevant, hands-on science experiences that nurtured their curiosity and engagement. The project brought science education into the 21st century with its use of digital tools and networks.

Without a doubt, “YES I Can! Science” succeeded in its mission to inspire a lifelong passion for science in students across North America. Its spirit lives on in the next generation of science education initiatives it has influenced.

Partnerships to Extend the Project’s Reach

Critical to the success of “YES I Can! Science” were its partnerships with education organizations and corporate sponsors. Sponsors like Cenovus Energy, Encana, and Imperial Oil provided essential funding to develop resources, programs, and tools to enrich science learning. Collaborations with government agencies like SchoolNet Canada helped extend the project’s reach.

With the support of these partners, “YES I Can! Science” had an even greater impact on students, teachers, and science education. The success of the program stands as a testament to the power of partnerships in education.

In summary, “YES I Can! Science” embodied a pioneering spirit in science education. During its 14 remarkable years, it made science engaging, participatory, and accessible to students across North America. Its resources and approach have served as a model, inspiring the next generation of interactive science learning programs. While formally retired, its legacy lives on.