MindFuel (formerly Science Alberta Foundation)
Our Story Why We Exist
In April 1989, Jim Gray presented at a Rotary Club Luncheon in Calgary, Alberta, articulating his vision of the significance of science in the community and to the future of Alberta. He shared his concerns regarding the low performance of Alberta students in global OECD rankings, and created awareness and support regarding the importance of cultivating an Alberta that could compete on the global stage. The key to achieving an economically strong province began with investing in the students of today who are the knowledge workers of tomorrow.
In 1990, with support from committed collaborators including the Government of Alberta, corporate, and educational sectors, Jim Gray’s vision resulted in the founding of Science Alberta Foundation (SAF). His idea of a provincial network of science centres evolved into the unique concept of a science centre without walls, and an unconventional, dynamic organization that created a network - not of science centres - but of people immersed in scientific endeavours. “Not bricks and mortar,” said Mr. Gray, “but people and communities.” This would represent a “bottom-up” approach, a tough, scrappy, non-institutional institution, running ahead of the pack - with grassroots involvement at every step.
Today, MindFuel continues to inspire curiosity in youth, opening a world of possibilities for them. To date, we have developed numerous award winning programs – “Science-in-A-Crate,” “Aboriginal Ways of Knowing,” “Wonderville,” “Bust-A-Myth,” “Ignition Pack” and “Edacity,” and have delivered over 25,000,000 learning experiences as a result of these programs throughout Alberta, across Canada, and internationally. MindFuel, like SAF in its early days, continues to Ignite Curiosity, Critical Thinking and Imagination, not only in students, parents, and teachers in Alberta, but around the world.
After 25 years of serving Alberta and beyond, MindFuel continues Jim Gray’s mission – changing lives with science resources that captivate the imagination, to lead to a brighter future for students, parents and teachers.
Our Impact What We Do
We don’t just create innovative science resources; we create experiences that ignite curiosity and a passion for science for life.
Since 1990, MindFuel has been dedicated to creating moments that engage students in learning. Science should be fun, intriguing and inspiring – something that our programs embody. It should also be about exploration so we give students a chance to interact with different materials, experiment with a variety of solutions and explore unique online worlds.
We believe that for every child we reach with our programs, we create the unique opportunity to ignite their spark of curiosity to inspire them to one day do great things. Whether they become a scientist, teacher, entrepreneur or businessperson – everything we do is to create a lifelong passion for learning that youth will take with them into their future lives.
In 2013, we celebrated 25 years of curiousity and here are our accomplishments:
- >1.7 million learning experiences were delivered through MindFuel programming
- 83 new learning assets have been developed by MindFuel
- 12 million MindFuel impressions have been made (from digital, events and print)
- >9,000 hours have been donated by MindFuel volunteers
Our Programs How We Do It
Wonderville.ca (http://www.wonderville.ca) – Science Driven by Curiosity
At MindFuel we believe that a spark of curiosity can change the world. Wonderville.ca is an online hub filled to the brim with science activities, games, videos and experiments just waiting to ignite someone’s imagination. By presenting science materials in engaging and unique ways, we break down the barriers to learning science. Wonderville.ca houses over 220 quality-learning resources that align with Alberta’s K-12 curriculum providing educators and students alike the opportunity to find their own spark.
Awarded with a Webby in 2011 for Best Animation, Two BESSIE Awards for Best Educational Website and an ASTech Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, Public Awareness, Wonderville.ca is recognised globally for excellence and quality resources. We bring together and collaborate with science experts, skilled animators, video game designers and illustrators to create truly stunning experiences that engage youth.
Ignition Pack (www.ignitionpack.ca) – Bringing the Spark to Teaching
Imagine a classroom full of excited and engaged 10 and 11 year old students, gathered around a nine square foot wetland, each excitedly calling out the traits of their wetland critter. They discover that abiotic factors in the wetland make a significant difference for their critters and move on to learn about how wetlands are created. Using soil, peat and rocks typically found in a wetland, they learn how water is absorbed into the ground and why, in some cases, the water isn’t absorbed, and forms a wetland. From hands-on learning, the teacher turns their attention to the smartboard where a video is playing. The video stars an ecologist who takes the students to different wetlands in Alberta and shows them the different types of wetlands that exist. The students’ curiosity is peaked and they begin exploring which wetland type their critter lives in and where in Alberta that wetland is found.
This is what you’ll find when you enter a class where the teacher is using an Ignition Pack. It transforms classroom teaching by combining the best of 21st century learning, hands-on resources, and digital components with the resources educators need to teach a full unit of science for grades 4-9. Instead of following along with textbooks or ritualized learning, students engage with subject matter through exploration, experimentation and questioning.
Whether someone is teaching science for the first time, or is an experienced teacher, Ignition Pack delivers resources that bring new ideas to teaching science.
Edacity (www.edacity.ca) – The Intersection of Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurial Spirit
Students are constantly changing and as we enter the 21st century, education has been adjusting to these changing student needs. Today’s students are digitally literate, creative, innovative and globally aware. Businesses are in dire need of young employees with competency in critical thinking, personal management, social responsibility, decision-making and leadership skills. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are no longer the exclusive domains of the 10% academic high achievers, rather, science, technology and innovation underpin and animate virtually every aspect of modern life, driving economic growth and prosperity and fuelling advances that enhance health, environmental and social wellbeing.
And yet, there is little to no support to help students along innovation-based educational and career paths.
MindFuel’s Edacity program brings together creativity, science learning and entrepreneurialism in a one-of-a-kind program to teach students the value that is found at the intersection of science and entrepreneurial spirit.
The program provides high school teachers with the tools they need to deliver an innovative in-class learning experience to students that focuses on STEM and entrepreneurship – from hands-on learning resources to mentor connections. Offering the opportunity for high school credits, young Albertans participating in Edacity engage in topics of science and engineering in real-world applications.
It is currently being piloted in the Calgary area but MindFuel’s goal is to see educators and students across Alberta engaged in innovation-based learning practices to position the province, and ultimately the nation, as the global innovators of the future.
Our Requests What You Can Do
At MindFuel we create moments that can change a single life forever.
Our youth are our future. They’re tomorrow’s CEOs, researchers and leaders and the future of our industries, province and nation. It is incredibly important that we inspire our youth to question the world around them, to find creative solutions to problems and to become lifelong learners. Our resources aim to ignite the spark that all youth have – to engage them in learning. But we can’t do it alone.
Your support can help us create more life changing moments, through the creation of quality science resources for k-12 students. Donate today and inspire a lifelong passion for science.