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Catalyst Conference October 2013

Armed with a van full of mason jars, screens, lasers, beads, LEDs and wiggly Jell-O, Science World’s dynamic duo, Eix and Eix, once again participated in the biannual Catalyst Conference. The event was organized by the British Columbia Science Teachers Association and occurred on Friday, October 25, 2013. The event was held at Cambie Secondary School in Richmond and was attended by over 400 science teachers from all over BC.

The key function of this conference was to provide science teachers with resources they can use to supplement their teaching and further engage their students. Catalyst attendees got a chance to do hands-on science experiments and participate in programs and workshops offered by organizations like Science World, the Vancouver Aquarium and Genome BC.

This year, Science World’s very own Science Learning Lead, Dr Sandy Eix, teamed up with her father, John Eix, a retired assistant professor at the University of Toronto. They dazzled their audience with demonstrations and encouraged teachers to build their own learning bag of tricks, so that they can easily wow their science classes.

The Eix and Eix’s workshop filled up so fast, teachers were turned away before the session started!

Five stations were set up around the large classroom, each focused on one scientific concept:

Unspillable Cup demonstrates air pressure and surface tension
Activity: A mason jar full of water with a screen covering the top is inverted. Why doesn’t the water spill out?

Rectangular Prism Exploration demonstrates bending of light and fiber optics
Activity: Cutting different shapes out of Jell-O and shining a laser beam though it. How does the laser beam bend?

Building Circuits demonstrates the concept of electricity
Activity: Using a battery, Play-Doh and LED, make the LED glow. What was the configuration that was needed to get the LED to light up?

Drop of Doom demonstrates angular momentum
Activity: Using a pencil, string and weights. When the string is hung over the pencil and one end of the string is heavier than the other and you let go, what happens?

Molecular Movement demonstrates how molecules move around
Activity: Using loose beads in a CD case, shake the case around. How many different configurations can each bead (molecule) form?


In this classroom the teachers became the students—and boy, were they inquisitive! Teachers had approximately 10 minutes at each station. There was water spilling, Play-Doh moulding, Jell-O cutting, bead shaking and light bulbs lighting up—both on the desk and in the teacher’s minds.

At the end of the workshop, teachers went home with a goody bag filled with the items they used in each of the activites.

If you missed your chance to attend the Catalyst Conference, you can access our compiled resources, including the Eix and Eix workshop resources, for grades 8–12. If you’re looking for grades K to 7, check out our resources page.

Photos and the live Twitter feed from the conference can be found here.