From phytoplasms to flaming heads – TWU's Science in the Valley is equipping students with a new love for the sciences.

Upon his signal, two assistant teachers pour clear liquid in funnels at the top of a swirling maze of tubes and chemistry apparatus. As the liquids combine an intense glow is seen to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the students. Dr. Montegomery explains that the reaction they just witnessed, called the “firefly reaction,” is the same science involved when cracking a glow stick.

Each May the Biology and Chemistry Department at Trinity Western University hosts groups of Grade 6 and 7 students through the Science in the Valley Program. The program offers workshops, which parallel BC curriculum, to classes in the local School Districts allowing students to conduct experiments and view things under microscopes in a real university lab setting. Studies have shown that many students stop being interested in science around grade 6 or 7 and this type of field trip helps instill some excitement around the two areas of study.

Students in the chemistry portion of Science in the Valley witness all kinds of experiments including one of the instructors lighting his head on fire during an experiment in addition to learning about bases and molecules. Budding scientists in the biology laboratory are introduced to elements of a microscope, basic cell biology and plant kingdoms.

Science in the Valley is a winner for both students and their teachers. Abbotsford Middle School grade seven teacher Kathy Shannon is thrilled with the program. While observing her class learning in the chemistry department and excitedly partaking in different experiments using a wide variety of equipment Shannon remarks, “This is more than I can do. Our lab has old broken down equipment and I don't have the facilities or the resources to do this.”

After students complete the Science in the Valley Program they are each given a certificate showing their achievement– something the students take great pride in. Shannon goes on to say, “The University is so accommodating to our needs as a group. After we are done here in the labs we will go for a walk in the ESA (Ecological Study Area) and since we're moving into studying ecology it fits perfectly.”

The creators of Science in the Valley are TWU Professors Craig Montgomery and Eve Stringham who started the program in May 2005. Then, the program ran 10 chemistry workshops and 10 biology workshops and has grown considerably over the last two years, increasing to 30 chemistry workshops and 20 biology workshops this year.

Science in the Valley is partially funded by a PromoScience Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.More information on Science in the Valley can be found at

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from business, communications and education to biotechnology and nursing, and offers 15 graduate degrees in such areas as counseling psychology, business, the humanities, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-10-11
Author: Erin Mussolum