Authentic Learning at It’s Finest

I love this quote:

Tell me, and I forget;
Show me and I remember;
Let me do and I understand.
(Chinese Proverb)


This past weekend, 11 grade 12 physics students from my school, along with two of our science teachers flew out to Saskatoon SK, in order to conduct live research using Uof S’s Synchrotron, as a part of the CLS Light Source program.

If you are anything like me, you are probably thinking… what is a synchrotron? Well check out the link below.

Now I have to tell you that the inspiration for my blog today came not from the actual experiments that the students were doing (although they did share their research with top medical researchers from across the country), but from the fantastic conversation shared around the staff table today by one of the supervisors on just how ENGAGED these students were in their learning.

Students were taken into the lab, treated like professional scientists and were given permission to use the real materials (not toys). Listening to my colleague talk about how the kids stayed up until midnight on Friday and Saturday evening doing their calculations and developing their presentation, really hit home for me (how many kids want to do homework all weekend). 

He described the conversation around the dinner table involving sharing opinions on stem cell research and metaphysics.

He even related a story about teaching the students how to dress for a presentation and going around and tying all the guys ties for them

Each of the fabulous moments involved authentic learning that the students will be able to carry into their future lives.

They also did not occur in a classroom between 9 am and 3 pm Monday to Friday.

I love the fact that Bishop Carroll’s Supported Self-directed Learning Environment allows for these types of  memories to be made.

Other scientific opportunities which are students are invited to participate in:

  • FYSci Camp

FYSci, is free and is designed to give selected students from around the province first-hand experience of biomedical and health research, and introduce them to biomedical career opportunities. During the program, FYSci participants will attend lectures, preform hands-on science activities and go on tours of campus and other research facilities. They will also have the opportunity to discuss career and education opportunities with guest speakers.

Application to the program is by teacher recommendation only. Applicants require at least a 75% standing in each of math 20, biology 20 and one other Grade 11 science course. Please submit a transcript or copy of a recent report card or progress report.

Deadline for receipt of applications is May 15, 2013. For more information ask at the Science desk or see their website at

  • CIHR

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Synapse Mentorship program. We have many mentorship opportunities available in a wide range of research areas including: biology, genetics, chemistry, neurosciences, cancer, immunology to name a few. Connect your interest in health and science with the world of professional scientists — and learn more about how science really works and what scientists do. A mentorship can involve:

helping young scientists with their science fair projects, ideas or problems;

providing laboratory training and experience;

giving advice through an on-line mentorship—scientists sharing their stories, passion and experiences to inspire and to challenge youth to achieve new goals; and,

exploring science career and education options.

You will need to create a brief (1-2 page) resumé and send it by email to or to
Once we receive your resumé, we will begin to match you with an appropriate mentor. The resumé should include key information such as:

name, contact information, level of study and school;

academic and non-academic awards/accomplishments;

a description of their scientific interests; and,

information about why they would like a mentor.

Please join us on our new Synapse Connection Facebook page by clicking “like” on our page at!/SynapseScienceConnection


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