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  • Alison Symington

Looking forward to Canada’s next 150

As we enter 2017, celebrations of Canada’s sesquicentennial are sweeping across the country; events will be held throughout the year commemorating Canadian accomplishments and progress since 1867. Canada’s scientific and technological achievements will be highlighted among the celebrations, and rightfully so. Some of our discoveries and inventions are well known, such as the discovery of insulin by Banting and Best, or the introduction of standard time by Sir Sanford Fleming, or the Canadarm used on the Space Shuttle. Lesser known perhaps is the development of the electric wheelchair by George Klein, the development of Pablum by scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children, or that Canadians Till and McCulloch discovered stem cells in the 1960s. Many of these accomplishments as well as countless other Canadian science and technology contributions can be found at the Innovation 150 website and I encourage you to visit and add your own stories.

This memorable occasion, however, is also a chance to look ahead, and we at the Science and Technology Awareness Network (STAN) have been doing just that. Over the last 12 months, we have instituted a new strategic plan and launched a newsletter that aims to connect our community. You can read the latest newsletter here.

We have also launched this new website and hope that you will take time to visit and provide feedback. STAN is a member-driven organization with a mandate to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) organizations, and individuals with a passion for science and technology, together to share ideas and best practices. In addition, it provides a platform to advocate for the importance of science and technology literacy in the development of a vibrant Canada, essential to our continued economic and societal prosperity over the next 150 years. The disciplines within science and technology are changing, and the traditional education systems, organizations and individuals at the forefront of promoting science literacy will play an essential role in the way forward.

We have already begun to see the convergence of traditional scientific disciplines such as with bioinformatics, which combines computer science with biology to solve complex biological problems. Biological and engineering solutions are now routinely used together in addressing issues of climate change. The role of art and design in science and technology has become increasingly important, and this blurring of traditional lines is likely to continue to breed new and exciting innovation. However this convergence also shows how essential it is that society as a whole participates in, and values, scientific literacy; all members of society should have the opportunity to be engaged in the knowledge economy of the future.

This year, on February 22, STAN will be holding a conference looking forward at what STEM might look like in the next 150 years, and how to best engage Canadians and, in particular, future generations in the evolution of discovery and innovation. What can we learn from each other, and how can we harness the ingenuity that resides within our country? Please join us and be part of developing Canada’s future for the next 150 years.

We are also looking for members to become more involved in STAN. Whether it is contributing through participation at the Conference, joining a STAN committee or spreading the word about STAN, we hope you will join us in making STAN YOUR organization.

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