October 2019
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Celebrating Math and Science at UBC Faculty of Education

Posted: October 20th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

The Physics Room was very busy during the day, as well as our mathematics, biology, chemistry and earth science labs.

Yesterday, on October 19th, 2019 we hosted our 9th Family Math and Science Day. We had more than 600 guests and almost 150 volunteers. We started this event in 2010 and we were not sure how many people would be on board. I was lucky that my colleague – a math educator Dr. Cynthia Nicol and our Education Library Librarian – Jo-Anne Naslund were immediately on board. Most importantly, my husband – a Physics Professor – Dr. Valery Milner was ready to help me out with everything from science demonstrations to the organization of the event and of course with the clean up. We were also lucky to get support from our Faculty and our colleagues.

The first event drew about 200 guests and about 80 volunteers. And it was a good start. Next year it was much easier to attract the families, as the families who attended our first event and enjoyed it told their friends and the event has become a part of the science methods courses for future teachers. So in a few years, it has become an amazing tradition of bringing mathematics and science to the general public and inspiring our future elementary and secondary teachers to engage students and their families in science and mathematics.

The kids and their parents enjoyed biology, chemistry and earth science exhibits very much.

This event also shows that through collaboration you can achieve much more than any one of us can do alone. This year, this was especially clear when we had so many students, staff and faculty came to participate. We also had a lot of secondary science teachers volunteers who came to engage younger students and their families in science. We had many elementary teacher-candidates participate this year as well. Thanks to all of them we were able to explore STEM connection to music, arts and many other exciting fields. As always we had Yvonne Dawydiak and Wes Wong bringing exciting hands-on activities for the students. This year we also had Pacific Museum of Earth with us, as well as Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, which was very exciting.

We also had local mathematics and science organizations such as The Spirit of Math, Math Potential, and Seaquaria engaged. This was especially valuable for the parents, who are looking for extra curricular opportunities for their children.

For more pictures from the day click here.

For some of the experiments from the event click here.

For our research on the topic, clear here:

Milner-Bolotin, M., & Marotto, C. C. F. (2018). Examination of parental engagement in children’s STEM education. Part I: Meta-analysis of the Literature. LUMAT: International Journal on Math, Science and Technology Education, 6(1), 41-59. doi:

Marotto, C. C. F., & Milner-Bolotin, M. (2018). Examination of parental engagement in children’s STEM education. Part II: Parental attitudes and motivation. LUMAT: International Journal on Math, Science and Technology Education, 6(1), 60-86. doi:

Milner-Bolotin, M., & Milner, V. (2017). Family Mathematics and Science Day at UBC Faculty of Education. Physics in Canada, 73(3), 130-132.

UBC Family Math and Science Day 2019

Posted: October 8th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

We are happy to host our 9th Family Math and Science Day at the UBC Faculty of Education on Saturday, October 19th.

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Ninth Family Mathematics & Science Day will take place @ UBC Faculty of Education on Saturday, October 19, 2019 (10:00 am – 12:30 pm). 

Download event flyer: Family Math Science Day Poster 2019

Register for the event here.

We are grateful to our sponsors: UBC Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC David Robitaille Endowment Fund, UBC Faculty of Education, UBC Teacher Education Office, UBC Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, The Spirit of Math

Science and Mathematics Educators and students from the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Teacher Education Program and the rest of the Faculty of Education community at UBC invite guests from 2 to 102 years old to help us celebrate mathematics and science through hands-on activities. The Mathematics and Science Family Day will focus on exciting hands-on and minds-on activities suitable for all those with  curious and inquiring minds. Mathematics and Science Days have become a great tradition that connects our faculty members, students, Teacher-Candidates and community at large with the excitement of mathematics and science learning and teaching. Parents, grand-parents, children, community members, and teachers are welcome to attend! Our previous Math and Science Days at UBC Faculty of Education have been very successful. They attracted hundreds of children and their families and more than 60 volunteers (annually) many of whom are Teacher-Candidates who come to share the love of mathematics and science with the larger community. The 2018 event broke all our records – we had more than 400 guests and more than 130 volunteers. We hope to have a great attendance in 2019 as well.

Registration: If you are interested in attending, you have to register here. (the event is free but the registration is required!) If you want to volunteer for the event, please email Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin: marina.milner-bolotin(at)

Mathematics is fun for young children exploring the concepts of measurement and volume conservation.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy | Faculty of Education

Teacher Education Office | Faculty of Education

Dean’s Office | Faculty of Education

Professional Development and Community Engagement | Faculty of Education

David F. Robitaille Professorship | Faculty of Education

Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences PIMS

The Spirit of Math

Math Potentials


History of Family Math and Science Days at the UBC Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy

9th Family Math and Science Day – October 19, 2019 (Saturday)

8th Family Math and Science Day – November 3, 2018 (Saturday)

7th Family Math and Science Day – November 4, 2017 (Saturday)

6th Family Math and Science Day – October 15, 2016 (Saturday)

5th Family Math and Science Day – October 18, 2015 (Sunday)

4th Family Math and Science Day – November 1, 2014 (Saturday)

3rd Family Math and Science Day – October 27, 2012 (Saturday)

2nd Family Math and Science Day – October 29, 2011 (Saturday)

1st Family Math and Science Day – October 30, 2010 (Saturday)

The event is organized by the Outreach Committee of the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy. We are proudly supported by the UBC Faculty of Education (the Dean’s Office), UBC Teacher Education Office, UBC Professional Development and Community Engagement Unit at the Faculty of Education, UBC Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy and David F. Robitaille Chair in Mathematics and Science Education, and Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS)!

Seminar Series: Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy

Posted: September 19th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Seminar: Immigration, Education, and Social Mobility: The Case of Israel

Posted: September 11th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Have you ever thought about the connection between immigrant students’ STEM education outcomes and their ability to succeed in a new society? This question has probably crossed your mind. You also would agree that STEM education opens many doors for upward social mobility to the students. However, how do we encourage students, especially immigrant students, to enroll in STEM subjects in secondary schools? What are the policy recommendations that would support these students? These questions are the research focus of an Israeli sociologist – Dr. Svetlana Chachashvili-Bolotin. She is a Senior Lecturer at Ruppin Academic Center in Israel and she gave an engaging ‘invited talk’ on the topic to the graduate students at UBC Faculty of Education on September 9th, 2019. Her presentation can be downloaded below.


And on September 20th, she will present a seminar to the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education: STEM Outcomes of Second-Generation Israeli Immigrant Students with High-Skilled Parental Backgrounds: A discussion with educators: EDCP Seminar-Sept-2019

Happy New Academic Year!

Posted: September 2nd, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

This is a very short message to wish everybody a very exciting new academic year and to invite you to our 9th Family Mathematics and Science Day. It will take place on October 19th here at UBC Faculty of Education. Here is the event flyer: Family Math Science Day Poster 2019 The event is free, but you have to sign up, as we have to limit the attendance to 400 people due to the space restrains.

On a slightly different note, as we all are thinking about learning, maybe it is worth to think HOW we can get better at learning. So here is a very relevant TED talk on the topic:

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Happy New Academic Year!

Exploring Coding with Raspberry Pi

Posted: August 20th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

This summer we explored how students can start playing with Raspberry Pi and acquire the basics of coding. This is a possible project they can engage with as a start. There are many online resources suggesting exciting projects with Raspberry Pi. This is only the beginning. We hope our teacher-candidates will consider how they can use them in their classrooms:

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New Year, New Challenges, New Beginnings

Posted: August 19th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

A beautiful rowan tree I photographed during one of our summer hikes. This tree has a lot of symbolism attached to it and it has a captivating beauty.

As we are enjoying the last weeks of summer, many of us start thinking about the new academic year. This is always an exciting time for teachers, students, university professors, and families. This is also a perfect time to ask ourselves about our personal goals for the next year. What would we like to achieve this year? What do we want to do differently than we have done in the past? How do we want to grow and what would we like to learn? How do we want to contribute to our community? I also like to ask myself, how can I support physics teachers across BC, who might not be my current students, but who are beginning teachers? This is one of the reasons, I have been actively involved with the BC Association of Physics Teachers for the last decade and a half. I hope that all of my students – future physics teachers will join the Association.

Once again, I am looking forward to teaching my Physics Methods course (EDCP 357). It is my ninth time teaching it. This year I would like to focus on the labs and doing science experiments, so my teacher-candidates have an opportunity to experience different technologies both as students and as teachers. As a result, I decided to remove a few assignments from my syllabus this year, in order to give my teacher-candidates more time to engage with the labs at a deeper level.

I am going to share the fast-speed video experiments with future physics teachers, as we have been working on this project for the last year. When I gave a talk about it in Budapest this July and during the Canadian Association of Physicists Congress in Vancouver this June, it brought a lot of questions and generated a lot of interest from physics educators. I hope my students – future physics teachers – will take these ideas and will use them with their smartphone. Our research paper on the topic of slow-motion videos in teaching physics will be coming out soon in the Canadian Journal of Physics. So I have exciting plans for my physics methods course.

We are also getting ready to facilitate another successful Family Mathematics and Science Day on October 19, 2019. I hope we will have lots of guests coming to enjoy hands-on science and mathematics. We have worked on many new resources for this event during the summer.


And going back to the rowan tree I photographed on one of our weekend hikes. I recently found out that this tree has a long history in many cultures. It is a very popular tree in Ukraine and Russia, where it is considered to be the Tree of Life (Happiness). And what is even more interesting, I just discovered that it is also very popular with the Celtic culture: This web site says:

“The Rowan tree has a long, sacred history. Since ancient times people have been planting a Rowan beside their home as in Celtic mythology it’s known as the Tree of Life and symbolises courage, wisdom and protection. ”

So while I am not going to be able to plant this tree beside my classroom, we have one at the entrance to our building – the Faculty of Education Building (SCARFE). I hope this tree will give us the courage to learn, make mistakes and try again. I hope it will give us the wisdom to listen to others even if we disagree with them and to make our own decisions. Finally, I hope it will protect us from going with the crowd and will inspire us to look for our own path.

Happy New Academic Year everyone!

GIREP 2019 Congress in Budapest

Posted: July 5th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

I am very fortunate to be invited to participate in a Symposium at the GIREP 2019 Congress in Budapest. I was invited by my esteemed Hungarian colleagues from Eotvos Lorand University , whom I met in 2017. I met Prof. Tamas Tel and his colleagues two years ago, when I visited Budapest for the first time with Valery and we were in touch since then.

I initially decided to visit Budapest somewhat coincidentally – I watched a movie (Der traurige Sonntag – The Gloomy Sunday), as it was recommended to me by my uncle. And after that, I somehow was drawn to the city and couldn’t stop but kept thinking about it. I was imagining these people who lived there during WWII and I wanted to visit. The movie is very powerful and it touched me. Then I have a Hungarian friend – Dr. Zoltan Berkes – who is now a physics professor in Alberta at Concordia University in Edmonton but who was born, studied, and lived in Budapest. I met Zoltan during one of the AAPT meeting we attended. I have a lot of respect for Zoltan and he always encouraged me to visit Budapest. Then it happened that my husband (Valery) was invited to give a talk at a physics conference in Budapest and I decided to join him. The visit itself was very memorable. Visiting Budapest – this beautiful old city located on the Danube river in the centre of Europe – was a very special experience for me. This historic city resonated with me in many different ways – from the tremendous scientific achievements of Hungarian scientists in the natural sciences and technology, to the dark times of the holocaust that are reflected in many memorials spread all over the city, such as The shoes on the Danube memorial and an unforgettable Holocaust Memorial Centre, and of the 1956 failed Revolution that was brutally squashed by the Soviet Union (the revolution started at the university that we visited!), to the amazingly friendly people, the university that so much remind me of our own in Kharkov, Ukraine, and to the beauty of this river that cuts this beautiful city in half – Buda and Pest (“s” in Hungarian is read as “sh”).

This time in addition to the conference, I was also very fortunate to visit the Wigner Research Centre for PhysicsEugene Wigner was a very famous Hungarian physicist. Growing up in a physics family and having a grandpa who was working on the Accelerator at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology made it a very interesting opportunity for me. I actually grew up at the institute as we used to live on its territory. While growing up I didn’t appreciate how special it was to be surrounded by physics history being made. Many famous physicists were my neighbours (Academics Lifschits, Landau, Akhiezer, Feinberg, etc.)  and to me they were parents and grandparents of my friends. So going to see the place where György (George) Marx – a famous Hungarian physicist and physics educator lived resonated with me as well. This very much reminded me of home as we also had commemorative plaques to remember famous scientists who lived there.

Dr. Csaba Sukosd led us to a place, where Prof. György Marx lived (by the University).

And Hungary had so many scientists, composers, writers (the Budapest airport is named after a Hungarian Composer Ferenc Liszt (Franz Liszt). It is a country of about 10 million people with a huge cultural, scientific, and economic potential that I hope will be realized here. The geographic and architectural beauty of Budapest is stunning. And most importantly, it is a European country that I can relate to, except for the language that I wasn’t able to learn even to be able to be polite or to ask how to get somewhere. Duolingo wasn’t sufficient for me in it or maybe I wasn’t motivated enough.

Prof. Igal Galili, I, and Prof. David Sokoloff at GIREP 2019 Congress in Budapest. Both of these people have made a big impact on me as a science (physics) educator and I am very grateful for that. Their work has influenced many people worldwide.

It is my first participation in this conference (International Group on Physics Education Research) and I am very grateful I could go. The Congress was attended by many European colleagues who would rarely attend AAPT, while at the same big PER stars like Igal Galili, David Sokoloff, Dean Zollman, Manjula Sharma, etc. were also there. It was a very different conference from the AAPT (which I have been attending for the last almost 20 years) and it was great to be a part of this GIREP event. Most interestingly, it was important for me to see that what my graduate students and I are currently discussing in our graduate course on research in science education is something that attracted a lot of attention at the conference. Our discussions on misconceptions, alternative conceptions, and different views on the theories of knowledge, as well as on the nature of science (NOS) were widely discussed at the conference. There are also interesting presentations on the use of technology, including smartphones, AR and VR, etc. The keynote address by Prof. Igal Galili was something that I wish my students could see. His ideas about the Cultural Content Knowledge (CCK) and the view on the NOS are widely discussed now in our online course. I am very proud of my students who think deeply about these concepts.

I am also very glad I was able to present our collaborative work on the use of slow-motion videos in physics teaching (see below). Most importantly, meeting colleagues all around the world (47 countries were represented) is very inspirational about 318 participants). I am sure that this conference will have an impact on me and my students.

Ref.: Milner-Bolotin, M., Milner, V., Aminov, O., & Wasserman, W. (2019, July 1- 5, 2019). Seeing fast and slow: Engaging students in science through slow motion video experiments. Paper presented at the GIREP-ICPE-EPEC-MPTL 2019 CONFERENCE: Celebration of Eötvös Year 2019 “Teaching-learning contemporary physics, from research to practice”, Budapest, Hungary.

AR and VR in STEM Education

Posted: June 7th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

My student Ryan Lin and I are working on introducing Google Tours to future STEM teachers. We think this technology has a lot of potential in a STEM classroom as it allows to connect Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) into science teaching. This is something that our students are exposed to in their lives. So to help future teachers, we created a video on the use of Google Tours in STEM education. We hope you find it useful.

ISfTE 2019 Conference

Posted: June 5th, 2019, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

The photo of the participants of the 2019 International Society for Teacher Education conference (May 12-17, 2019)

I have been very fortunate to attend the ISfTE 2019 conference. This was a very special experience for me for at least three reasons. First of all, this was a new community for me. It is a truly international community of scholars and practitioners who work in teacher education. Hearing ideas from the colleagues from so many countries was very interesting. As far as I remember, the countries represented at the conference were: Canada, USA, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Bhutan, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Singapore, Kenya, Nigeria, S. Africa, Brazil, India, Australia, etc. The second feature of the conference that blew me away was the organization of the conference in the form of a working group workshop. We were working on our paper drafts with colleagues in order to produce publishable papers as the result. To me it was very productive and useful. What a big difference with the “traditional education conferences”. The third feature is allowing us to explore the area where we were through organized field trips and excursions. This was amazing. And not only we had fun, but we got to know each other and we discussed each other’s work as a result. This was a great idea. I have to say how much I admire the work of the conference organizers from Brock University – Drs. Vera Woloshyn and Leanne Taylor. I will definitely try to attend this conference in the future. And now, my colleagues and I have to write the paper we have been working on and submit it to the August journal issue of the ISfTE journal.

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