Simon Fraser University has unveiled its plans for a $4.4 million observatory on its Burnaby campus dedicated to engaging children and youth in science.
The Trottier Observatory and Courtyard and the newly opened Trottier Studio for Innovative Science Education have been established through the vision and financial support of the Trottier Foundation, headed by Lorne and Louise Trottier.
Together the facilities will offer a wealth of hands-on science activities and provide a permanent site for outreach programs, which already attract 5,000 children, youth and other visitors to the campus annually.
“These facilities will help SFU realize its goal to be Canada’s most community-engaged research university,” said SFU President Andrew Petter. “Thanks to the Trottier Foundation, the university will be well equipped to offer thousands of young people across the country with opportunities to learn about and participate in the study of science.”
Dean of Science Claire Cupples adds: “Our faculty has a long and proud tradition of bringing exciting science to children, families and schools. Now we can do so much more. The sky is, quite literally, the limit.”
The observatory, to be completed by August 2014, will be located at the east end of campus near Strand Hall. It will feature a six-meter-diameter dome housing a 0.7-metre diameter reflector telescope that is capable of tracking distant galaxies billions of years old.
The telescope will also provide a digital feed and can be remotely accessed and deployed by community groups and schools across Canada.
A viewing plaza will offer sundials and space for people to set up their own telescopes next to the dome. SFU’s physics department plans to offer undergraduate astronomy courses as well.
“When people look through our telescopes I want them to feel the mystery and the excitement of the universe,” says SFU physics professor Howard Trottier, founder of SFU’s Starry Nights stargazing program, which has attracted thousands of star buffs of all ages since its inception in 2007.
Meanwhile the studio’s first visitors—a class of nearby Highland elementary school students—helped to officially open the facility, located in the chemistry wing of the Shrum Science Building.
The studio provides a flexible space designed to engage up to 70 children in hands-on science workshops. The space includes an independent lab with a fume hood, a food preparation room, and a state-of-the-art audio-visual system that includes cameras and a 3D projector and two large videoconferencing screens. It will enable instructors to conduct workshops with classrooms across Canada and beyond.