Putting the WOW in science education


Imperial Oil Foundation pours $800,000 into McGill prof Brian Alters’ Winners of Wonderment Lab

The Imperial Oil Foundation has pledged $800,000 to fund a five-year McGill University project designed to woo – and wow – elementary and high school students across the country.

Led by Dr. Brian Alters, Tomlinson Chair in Science Education and Sir William Dawson Scholar at McGill, the Winners of Wonderment (WOW) Lab will research and develop three-dimensional technologies to help teachers generate excitement, interest, inspiration and enhanced learning in mathematics and sciences. The Imperial Oil investment will help equip the new lab with audiovisual, computer and other equipment.

On Monday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m., in the Faculty of Education’s Jack Cram Auditorium, Dr. Alters and his group will show foundation officials and a group of Montreal high school students the kind of pedagogical tools the lab will develop: a live demonstration of buoyancy involving a McGill professor submerged in over 400 gallons of water, and later in the WOW Lab, to demonstrate superconductivity, McGill’s first and only levitating train.

“McGill’s top-flight faculty has a well-deserved reputation for thinking outside the box, and the WOW Lab is a testament to that spirit of innovation and inter-faculty cooperation,” said Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum.

The WOW Lab, a joint project of McGill’s Faculties of Science and Education, will report progress to its foundation sponsors on an annual basis to demonstrate the fruits of their investment.

“Imperial Oil is pleased to join with McGill in providing this innovative educational opportunity,” said Monica Samper, president, Imperial Oil Foundation. “This lab is a unique opportunity for professors, researchers and scientists to collaborate on developing new teaching methods that will inspire future generations to enter the fields of math, science and technology.”

Imperial Oil Limited has been contributing to communities across Canada for the past 126 years, with an emphasis on investment in education of math and sciences, environment, and civic and community programs where the company has employees or business operations. In 2006 Imperial Oil contributed more than $12 million to enhance the well-being of communities across Canada.

A recent recipient of McGill University’s highest teaching award, the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Dr. Alters holds appointments both at McGill and at Harvard University. He is the founder and director of the Evolution Education Research Center, a joint involvement between researchers in science and education at McGill and Harvard, and has written five books in the past five years on biology, evolution, religion and education.

On the Web: WOW Lab

Contact Information

Michael Bourguignon
McGill University
michael.bourguignon [at] mcgill.ca
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