Science Start boosts foundational skills for incoming students

Although her first university classes don’t start until September, Lucy Teminski is already familiar with the labs she’ll be working in at Brock.

The recent Laura Secord Secondary School graduate, who begins in the University’s Neuroscience program next month, is one of 94 students who opted to sharpen their skills this summer in Brock’s inaugural Science Start program.

The five-week preparation course, launched July 20, helps students to acclimatize themselves to science at the university level. Designed for first-year students entering a Brock degree program with a biology component, Science Start is offered both online and with a hybrid online and in-person approach by Brock’s Department of Biological Sciences.

“I wanted to take the hybrid version and work in the lab to practise with the equipment,” said Teminski, who, through the program, spends three hours a week in labs on campus. “Most high schools don’t have the advanced equipment they have at Brock and learning to use the tools early is helpful.”

Through a combination of lessons, workshops and lab tutorials, Science Start offers real-time instructor support and aims to ensure students have a strong understanding of biology fundamentals and the skills needed to be successful in future university courses.

“We found a specific need for this course to help new students coming from a wide variety of academic backgrounds in high schools across the world,” said Alysha Johnson, Science Start Co-ordinator. “The level of knowledge about proper lab report writing, scientific calculations and hands-on laboratory skills varies widely and Science Start helps get everyone on the same page and skill level.”

The hybrid version of the program provides students with the opportunity to learn and practise hands-on laboratory techniques in Brock’s teaching laboratories.

“Laboratory skills are vital for many science roles and hands-on practice with skills such as pipetting, microscopy and gel electrophoresis jump-start a student’s readiness in the lab, both on campus and in their career,” Johnson said.

The program, which runs until Aug. 20, offers flexible work hours through online teaching modules done at each student’s own pace.

“We recognize that many of our students work during the summer and benefit from flexible work hours,” Johnson said.

Science Start is a non-credit program and a final grade is not assigned. Quizzes and assignments are meant to assess a student’s own understanding of the topic.

“For new students, meeting classmates and connecting with faculty and staff is essential to success,” said Faculty of Mathematics and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed. “Science Start provides a comfortable environment to interact and learn about the people and resources available at the University.”

The program was designed and created by Department Chair and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Jeff Stuart, along with Jacinta Dano, Senior Laboratory Demonstrator, who supported the development of Science Start.

After the launch of its successful first year, Science Start will be offered each summer and will next return in 2022. For more information, visit the Science Start web page.

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