Lincoln Mothus

Lincoln Mothus

Chilliwack Community Science Celebration gets scrapped with provincial funding cuts

Provincial funding cuts to Science World have resulted in Chilliwack's annual Community Science Celebration being terminated for next year.

Central elementary’s Super Science Club won’t be affected by provincial funding cuts, but Chilliwack’s annual Community Science Celebration will.

For three years, Science World has collaborated with the University of the Fraser Valley and the Chilliwack and Abbotsford school districts to run the Community Science Celebration, a week of free events that showcased hands-on science outreach activities in the two communities.

But last week, that event was terminated when the B.C. government cut provincial funding for Science World programs.

Ora Steyn, executive director of UFV International, and former acting dean of sciences, was saddened by the news.

“This was a really important event for us because there’s a fairly large contingent of people that simply cannot afford to go into Vancouver on a regular basis,” said Steyn. “It will certainly hurt what we do and can do in the valley.”

Science World started offering the Community Science Celebration in the Fraser Valley during the 2010 Olympics when it realized residents in Chilliwack and Abbotsford weren’t taking advantage of their services at the Vancouver facility.

“This was about making science cool, relevant, current, and to show that it’s not just for eggheads,” said Pauline Finn, vice president of community engagement at Science World.

“Ultimately, it’s the families and kids in the community, those we’re trying to spark an interest in, who are going to lose out.”

Steyn worries the elimination of the program will also hurt local interest in the sciences.

In the last few years UFV has experienced a surge of students applying to get into the bachelor of science program, which has had a full student roster for the past two years.

“It’s sad that we can’t carry on with that momentum,” said Steyn. “Quite likely that will be affected.”

However, not all Science World programs in Chilliwack have been chopped.

The Super Science Club at Central elementary, which is another collaboration between Science World, UFV and the Chilliwack school district, will not be cut. Because the club is funded by the school district and community partnerships, and facilitated by UFV student volunteers, it was not affected by the provincial funding cuts.

kbartel@theprogress.com

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