Photo: Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

Looking for STEM activities for your family this summer? The University of British Columbia has online resources for you to explore, or check out some of our in-person programming 🎟️.

UBC partners

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum offers downloadable activities, online exhibitions and videos. Or visit the museum in person using an online timed-entry ticketing system 🎟️.

Explore the UBC Botanical Garden online or in person. Book your tickets 🎟️ ahead of time.

The Pacific Museum of the Earth provides a self-guided virtual tour, food recipes inspired by exhibits and a virtual Sea-to-Sky Hazards tour.

Phenomenal Physics and Astronomy at Home has compiled…

We celebrate Earth Day this April 22. Photo: istock.

We should care about our environment all year long, but Earth Day is a good reminder to pause and consider the myriad issues affecting our planet and envision how we can create a cleaner, fairer, more sustainable world for all.

This Earth Day, we look at some of the resources around UBC that explore the many ways humanity and our planet are interconnected.

Earth 2020

Last year, UBC oceanographer Dr. Philippe Tortell edited Earth 2020: An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet, a free selection of essays from scientists considering the ecological issues facing our planet. Researchers such as Dr. Sally Aitken explain why tree planting alone can’t fix climate change, Dr. Rashid Sumaila and Dr. Daniel Pauly discuss decades-long global declines in fish catches, and more.

Phylo Card Game

Phylo is an open-source card game that celebrates ecosystems. Building off the popularity of trading card games, it showcases species diversity and deals with serious threats to ecosystems, such as wildfires, oil spills, and climate change. You…

How cold can you go? Scientists use helium at approximately 4.2 Kelvin, equivalent to -268.95ºC, just 4˚C above absolute zero, to cool down certain materials. Photo: SBQMI/UBC.

Get a glimpse of some of the ‘coolest’ labs at UBC where researchers are probing the mysterious properties of materials under ultra-cold conditions.

By Dr. Sarah Burke, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute at UBC Science

Ever been so cold you felt like you could hardly move? It’s not just you. Atoms and molecules feel it too. Part of why we perform experiments inside our low-temperature cryostats is so the atoms and molecules don’t move around so much. At room temperature, single atoms and molecules sitting on a surface whiz around too fast to see. When they’re cold they stay put and we can study how their electrons are arranged, and how molecules react and interact with each other.

The needle-in-the-haystack problem is really a data science problem. Photo: iStock.

Modern medicine produces a massive amount of information about patients, but what good is the data without a way to understand it? A UBC computer scientist is finding ways to uncover secrets in the haystack of data.

By Dr. Raymond Ng, Director UBC Data Science Institute

If I told you to find a needle in a haystack, how would you do it? You might start by diving in and throwing hay around the room in hopes of getting lucky and finding the needle quickly. But you’d probably realize this approach was messy and start neatly sorting one piece of hay at a time. You’d develop some sort of system and, eventually, find the needle.

My job is to find needles in haystacks. Actually, looking for a needle in a haystack is a piece of cake compared to…

UBC Science wishes you and yours a healthy and peaceful holiday season. We’ve put together a Do a Science a Day 2020 Holiday Calendar, proven to keep you and yours busy discovering, creating and baking into the New Year.

All times are PST ⏰

16 December: 1 PM

Join Beaty Biodiversity Museum interpreters for a virtual tour (RSVP required).

17 December: 4 PM

How do reindeer fly? UBC researchers on the physics of Santa, live. 🎁

18 December: Breakfast

Bake cinnamonnites — inspired by UBC’s famous cinnamon bun recipe!

19 December: Anytime

Build a Rube Goldberg machine that serves cake in an extraordinarily way.


The upside of certain worm infections is that they might limit the development of some chronic inflammatory conditions. Image: istock.

By studying how infectious worms interact with our immune system, we may one day be able to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even allergies.

By Lisa Osborne, Assistant Professor, UBC Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Tell us what you think! We are running a reader survey.

2020 is the year of a global pandemic and we’re all hyper-focused on hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing. Creepy crawly critters may be the last things we want to think about. But when the critters in question can impact how your immune system responds to viruses and bacteria, it’s worth a look.

We want to know what you think of our online magazine, Focus. Answer a few questions and be entered to win a $100 gift card. Survey closes November 30.

Mosquito in lab resting on mesh. Photo: Paul Joseph/UBC.

“There’s something aesthetically beautiful about mosquitoes, in a sort of a horrible evolutionary way,” says UBC biologist Ben Matthews.

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia, UBC Science

Tell us what you think! We are running a reader survey.

The way Ben Matthews talks about mosquitoes, you’d think he’s describing a creature out of Alien or Predator. But he’s right to point out the health hazards they pose — mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on Earth. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infect more than 400 million people each year with dangerous pathogens, transmitting diseases such as malaria, Zika, dengue and yellow fever.

Matthews’ lab at UBC — including a mosquito nursery — studies how the genome of mosquitoes control their ability to perform adaptive behaviors…

Recreating lab experiences online can be a challenge, but UBC professors are finding ways to shift student learning. Photo: istock.

Universities across the world have shifted to online classes. But certain types of research and learning require labs. UBC professors explain how they are tackling lab work and lab courses.

Sara Harris, Professor of Teaching and Associate Dean Academic, Faculty of Science

Faculty, staff and students have all been working hard over the summer to prepare for fall courses online. All teaching across UBC Science that can be conducted remotely is being done remotely. Mostly, this means teaching online, but in a few cases, it means students will work with physical objects — like Arduino for physics work — in their homes.

Pulling nets. When catching seals we employ different methods to outfit them with telemetry tags and track them. Photo: R. Gryba.

A UBC statistical ecologist is trying to develop better methods to include Indigenous Knowledge in animal movement and habitat mathematical models.

By Rowenna Gryba, UBC Statistics and Geography

In Bayesian statistics, there’s a term called a prior. The prior can be “something known before” called prior knowledge. But it can also be an uninformed prior, vague knowledge without any details. Prior knowledge, when combined with data, can give us a better understanding of what our data is trying to tell us. As a statistical ecologist whose work is based solidly in the Bayesian camp of statistics, a prior can provide some really interesting opportunities for exploration.

UBC Science

Stories from the Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia | Edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, assistant editor Koby Michaels |

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store