Today, Vancouver welcomes 8,000 of the world’s top scientists for the first ever American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Canada in 30 years. During the next four days, Vancouver talks and celebrates science.
I can personally testify to the power of attending a AAAS conference such as this one.
In the early 1970s, I was an undergraduate student at a small liberal arts university in Oregon. I was, at the time, debating a career in science, most likely biology, in engineering, or in music education. A professor at the University (chemistry, I think) loaded three students, including myself, into a University car and we set off for a 30-hour plus drive to the AAAS conference in San Francisco. That conference opened my eyes, changed my perspectives on science, and decided my career.
Coming from a small University with about 2,000 students, the size and “bustle” of a major science conference with thousands of scientists and students was amazing in itself. Attending sessions on all kinds of sciences – chemistry, physics as well as biology and even some engineering – widened my view of the world, and broadened my understanding of how science works. Listening to some very famous scientists during plenary presentations inspired me. I came away from the experience a changed student with a desire to engage in science both in the scientific process, but also in “the community” of science as well. Hundreds of local students will have the opportunity to attend the sessions, and I expect the AAAS Conference in Vancouver will inspire many students to choose a career in science.
I encourage families to take part in the Family Science Days taking place at the Convention Centre this weekend. Here’s a fantastic opportunity for children to meet scientists, ask questions and be inspired by science. Vancouver Aquarium’s AquaVan will be on site with hands-on demonstrations. Children will be able to touch a sea star, understand how a barnacle feeds, observe a hermit crab up close and discover the connections among animals, environments and ourselves.
In closing, next time you visit the Vancouver Aquarium, do not hesitate to engage with our staff and inquire about marine biology. Our experts will gladly share their knowledge and invite you to discover a fascinating world where science plays an important role.
John Nightingale, Ph.D.
President and CEO