THIS IS HOW I TALK SCIENCE

David Ng (twitter) is an academic at the University of British Columbia. He is interested in various areas of science literacy, and is particularly engaged when the notions of science and art intersect.

This website is his unconventional teaching portfolio. You can learn more about Dave by clicking here.

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MY LAB (1999 TO PRESENT)

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In a nutshell, I’m Director of the Advanced Molecular Biology Lab (AMBL), which is the educational arm of the Michael Smith Labs (Rm 105 on the main floor).  Don’t let the fancy name fool you - along with Dr. Joanne Fox, we run a mean multi-faceted science literacy lab.  More info about the lab’s diverse range of programs can be found at bioteach.ubc.ca

Research: Promoting authentic views of science and scientific identity through scientific creativity (2013 and ongoing)

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With Marie-Claire Shanahan, my lab is developing a research query around examining the dichotomy of children’s impressions of being “scientific” versus being “creative” - all with a mind to see if the disconnect is common place, and whether it is a good or bad thing for general science literacy and perceptions.  

This research starts in earnest in fall 2014 but see this link (an open research blog) for more information.

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My blog (2011 and ongoing): where I categorize funny, curious, pretty things that work well as a break or transition in that science talk you’re about to give. Do check it out. (Also mirrored as a tumblr site here

WHY I DO SCIENCE (2008)

(A sort of personal statement)

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When I look out my office window, I see two sets of nucleotide bases – guanine and cytosine. I don’t mention this as an admission of psychotic delirium. The building where I work just happens to have a DNA molecule emblazoned on its windows. Admittedly, it’s an odd workplace view, but in my case it fits.

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SELECTED FAVOURITE LECTURE SLIDES

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I do love designing visually appealing slides for my talks/lectures, especially if they function beyond aesthetics to get a certain point across.

Here are a few examples:

1. Scientific method: The steps (simplified)

2. On science literacy: “truth” and spinning the “truth”, inflatable pool version

3. The alien hypothesis slide

4.  Replication slides (and lecture): Vonnegut edition. 

THE CANDY HIERARCHY (2010 - 2013)

A fun and popular meme, in which Ben Cohen and I, scientifically rank Halloween Candy (yes, peer review in the form of hundreds and hundreds of comments).  You can read the most recent version here at Boing Boing.

THE PHYLO PROJECT (2010 AND ONGOING)

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Raccoon card from my lab’s crowd sourcing biodiversity trading card project (phylomon!) Essentially, it’s a reaction to the fact that kids know a lot more about Pokemon than they do about the plants and animals in their backyard.  Currently over 400 cards are freely available, as well as a handful of high quality decks available for download and purchase, as well as many others in progress.

PUZZLE FANTASTICA (2006)

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The mother of all internet mysteries.  Good fun had by Ben Cohen and I.  Also, a nice tale of paradigm shifting in the mix - read this piece to learn more.

THE TERRY PROJECT

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In a nutshell, the Terry Project is a large scale cross-faculty program designed to educate undergraduate students on pressing global issues, via a multitude of different programming. I’m tickled pink to be one of the co-founders, and resident sciencegeek for the project.

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WORKING ON A BOOK (2013)

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This book writing task is scaring the bejeezus out of me, and yes, there is a bit about unicorns… Representation by the Park Literary Group.

The Science Creative Literacy Symposia (2008)

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This is a outreach program that I developed with a mind to combine scientific exploration with expository creative writing.  More details about this fieldtrip program can be found here (for Grade 5/6/7 level students).

There’s also a small write up at the TED website.

Note that we are currently enveloping a research initiative around this fieldtrip program.

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY (2003)

To Whom It May Concern:

My teaching philosophy is largely grounded in the belief that effective education is a major cornerstone in the development of individuals within a society.  Whether this pertains specifically to junior/senior scientists about to embark on new research initiatives or generally to members of the public grappling with the effects of technology, I take my role as an educator with passion, excitement and conviction.

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RECENT TEACHING EVALUATIONS (2012/2013)

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ASIC 200 (Arts and Science Integrated Course) - evaluation

BIOL437/BOTA544/PLANT540/FRST503 (Molecular Biology Techniques) -  evaluation

SCIE113 (First Year Science Seminar) - evaluation

THE SCIENCE SPRING SHOWDOWN (2007)

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Imagine the icons of science in a head to head, bracket crazy basketball tournament. How exactly would that look?  In 2007, myself and Ben Cohen decided to court other science writers to imagine such a competition, one basketball game at a time*.

*Unfortunately, many of the games were written at scienceblogs.com, which has since changed its URL set-up (i.e. links are broken).  Will hopefully fix this one day.

A TANGENTIAL SCIENTIFIC METHOD (2011)

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Basically an unconventional primer on the wonders of the scientific method, and the sorry state of a world that chooses to ignore it. Gives you a taste of the quirky way I talk/educate about science topics. You can get a taste by reading the essay here (on the web) or by downloading a print friendly pdf.

Also in Russian (link)

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