Going on a Science Field Trip: the VanScienceSocial

One of the experiments at TRIUMF

Earlier this week I went on the first field trip since I was in high school. It was a chance for a bunch of local media to experience a range of science related events and activities across the city.


The VanScienceSocial field trip started at Science World where we had a little bit of time to wander around the exhibits before things got underway. I immediately headed to the RedBull Stratos exhibit to see Felix Baumgartner’s capsule and spacesuit used in his record breaking jump from space.

I only had a few minutes to check out the Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out exhibition as well (need to go back and spend more time here):

During our lunch break, the folks at Anecdotal Evidence shared some stories in a combination standup and The Moth style presentation.


Then we all got on a trolly bus to head out to UBC to visit Triumf, home of the largest particle accelerator in Canada (the Cyclotron) and also the largest producer of medical isotopes.


Here we got a tour of a number of buildings that housed everything from their machine shop where they fabricate nearly every piece of equipment (and some fancy water jet cut keychains for us) to the various testing equipment used in the various experiments and research done in house with the Cyclotron and other gear that totally is from the X-Files. Every Wednesday they open the doors for public tours.

Back on the trolly to head across campus to Michael Smith Laboratories to sample our DNA. David Ng led an engaging explanation of what DNA is and how we’d extract some from our cheeks using a salt water rinse and stabilize it after separation from the water in the rinse. He also shared an interesting Science Creative Quarterly featuring a wookie you might be familiar with and even a free science-themed card game you can download yourself.

Then we were back on the trolly to head to the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium for dinner and a triple feature.


The first show in this case was a demonstration of what happens if Barbie were to take her helmet off in space (it’s not pretty)

Barbie In Space

That was followed by a chance to experience the universe inside the planetarium.

The final act was some time in the telescope observatory with an astronomer on a perfectly clear (albeit cold) night. I’ve lived in Vancouver for three decades and this was the first time I’ve been there on a weather appropriate night to see Jupiter and the Moon through the telescope lens.


This had to be one of the funnest field trips I’ve ever been on. The day was long but it didn’t drag at all since we made many stops along the way around the city that were engaging, interesting and downright fun without being hit over your head with science. Everything we did is open to the public and can be done separately. If you like doing unique and geeky things, I definitely encourage you to check out any or all of these locations.

One Comment

  1. Great pictures! Looks like an amazing day!

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