Science Literacy Week, 2022

We have been participating in this Canada-wide celebration of science since 2015, but this year really is special. We could not be more enthusiastic about welcoming you to our McGill events, some virtual and others in-person. The theme of this year’s Science Literacy Week, taking place September 19-25, is Mathematics. It is such a wonderfully broad theme that, together with our campus partners, we were able to organize an array of learning opportunities for you.

I thought that I would break it down day by day with a few insights, but first there are two exhibits that have already launched and that you can check out right away. There is a Math / Music exhibit at the Marvin Duchow Music Library with materials from their collection that demonstrate the rich connections between the two disciplines. There is also a Mathematics Redpath Book Display, both physical (in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library) and virtual for some interesting reading material.


Monday

  • Stats-wise (12-1pm; in person): I was a student of Professor Rhonda Amsel during my undergrad at McGill (last century!) and she truly is a wonderful educator. I cannot wait to hear her talk about the ‘why’ of statistics. This presentation is for everyone.
  • Introduction to Working with Data in Excel (2-4pm; virtual): This is hands-on experience for the absolute beginner.

Tuesday

  • The Art of Explaining Science to Non-Specialists (12-1pm; virtual): Who better to introduce this important skillset than Science Communication Specialist at the Office of Science Education, Diane Dechief? I promise that this will be one hour well spent.
  • Plant Walk and Harvest (12-1pm; in person): The folks at Redpath Museum have been huge supporters of Science Literacy Week since the beginning. There are limited spots available for this McGill garden tour.
  • Intro to LaTeX (2-3pm; virtual): Get some LaTeX practice using the free online editor, Overleaf.

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday


That’s it so far. I’m sorry for all of the exclamation marks (it’s exciting). Register today for a workshop, or join us for one of the drop-ins. I hope to see you around ūüôā

Books on display in May: Women in STEM

This month’s print book and ebook displays spotlight women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The books are about remarkable women who made advances in their fields, despite the challenges of oppressive systems and all of the forms that harassment can take. They tell the stories of women in STEM who did not quit.

The print book shelves can be found on the main floor of the Redpath Library Building, in the McLennan-Redpath Complex, during the month of May. Take a look at the selected titles in our catalogue list for the Women in STEM print book display.

The Women in STEM ebook display has an additional 100 titles to explore online.

Beyond books, I want to highlight two electronic videos in the McGill Library collection that are worth your attention: Ms. Scientist, and Picture a Scientist.

Ms. Scientist, 2018 film (43 minutes)

Around the world the fields of scientific research and development remain a male-dominated environment. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics less than thirty percent of the world’s researchers are women. Many women enter a career in science but leave because of roadblocks and challenges. Canada wants to change that. Brandy Yanchyk’s documentary Ms Scientist explores how Canada is trying to get female scientists to stay in the fields of science and progress to the top. Ms Scientist looks at the successes and challenges that Canada’s female scientists face. The film delves into their lives and examines the obstacles that are hindering their success such as balancing family and work, sexual harassment and unconscious bias.

Picture a Scientist, 2020 film (1 hour 37 minutes)

Picture a Scientist is a feature-length documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. A biologist, a chemist and a geologist lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, overcoming brutal harassment, institutional discrimination, and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science. From cramped laboratories to spectacular field sites, we also encounter scientific luminaries who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all.

For more links, visit our Women in STEM page on the Redpath Book Display guide.

Have a lovely May!

An active Science Literacy Week

This year, Science Literacy Week will keep you moving. Beginning September 16, there are tours lined up, a game-based session around data management, a hands-on Excel workshop, interactive sound demonstrations, and exhibits to explore.

Here is the daily rundown of downtown activities organized by the Library:

Monday, (Sept 16): Montreal’s Urban Heat Island: Tour of temperature sensors on campus

Tuesday, (Sept 17): Tour of the Maude Abbott Medical Museum

Wednesday, (Sept 18): Sounds in the City + Treasures from the History of Science in Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, (Sept 19): Tour of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning + Discover the cure! An introduction to the fundamentals of data management

Friday, (Sept 20): Chart Making in Excel: Going Further by Telling a Story with your Data

Register for an event today!

We also have exhibits going on so don’t miss out on those. You will get the opportunity to test out your map literacy in the Redpath Library Building, and check out a science book in person or online.

Exploring McGill on a rainy day

I’m taking advantage of this rainy day to tune in to the Mini-Science 2018 episodes: Women in Science at McGill (and beyond). This seven-part series was recorded and made available on the McGill YouTube channel.

YouTube is the place to go If you have ever wondered if you could watch lectures and events that have taken place on campus. Videos include public forums, competitions, and conference presentations.

Apart from the main channel, there are additional options on YouTube for webcasts related to science at McGill: AstroMcGill, Separating Sense From Nonsense (McGill Office for Science and Society), Montreal Neuro, and McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

If you have time, I highly recommend the first episode of this year’s Mini-Science – History of Women in Science (below). In it, Principal¬†Suzanne Fortier tells an engaging story about her experience growing up in a small town in Quebec and her unique path to science. There were a total of three books in her home, but to find out which three you will have to watch.

Enjoy the rain!

Calendar of Science

Would you like a scientific blast from the past?¬† The Pacific Science Center in Seattle posts a monthly list of scientific facts for each day of the month called the Calendar of Science.¬† On this day, 124 years ago, Vladimir Zworykin was born.¬† He was the engineer “who invented the type of cathode-ray picture tube used in TV sets [and] computer monitors.” Check out the Calendar of Science to find out what happened on tomorrow‚Äôs date.

What *should* we be worried about?

Do you ever wonder what is on the minds of influential scientists, scholars, writers and artists? What are the thinkers thinking about?

The¬†Edge¬†is here to help, by probing great minds with great questions, like “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” or “How is the Internet changing the way you think?”

I’m making my way through the¬†responses to the 2013 Edge question: “What *should* we be worried about?”

Happy worrying?

Nature’s timeline

I was browsing the website on the history of the journal Nature and came across their timeline. Scanning through the decades from the 1860s to the present gives an impressive overview of the history of science. Read about the argument over who the first person was to think up using fingerprints to identify criminals in 1880, or the debunking of N-rays (N is for Nancy) in 1904. Some key papers have come from Nature, including the famous paper on the structure of DNA from Watson and Crick in 1953. Explore the timeline and learn more about those early reports of X-rays, nuclear fission, lasers, holography, and isotopes.

The Library has an electronic version of the book A century of nature twenty-one discoveries that changed science and the world that you may be interested in as well.