Joan de Grace - Science Outreach Program Developer

23 January 2012

Name: Joan de Grace

Age: 29

Born: Prince George, British Columbia

Profession: Science Education

They just might be one of the funnest places to visit - Science centres are packed with cool interactive exhibits and activities that attract hundreds of thousands of people each year. But what gets developed in science centres goes beyond their walls and into your classrooms. Science Outreach Program Developers are those people who develop exciting science programs for places in the community, like schools. Joan de Grace talks about what it's like to work in a Science Centre and as a Program Developer.

What is a Science Outreach Program Developer?

A science outreach program developer is someone who works at a science centre that develops exciting, creative, and interactive programs for everyone from pre-scholars and teachers to the general public. They then get to deliver the programs throughout the province, particularly to schools.

What is a typical day like for you?

My day can include a trip to Northern BC to deliver a workshop to teachers on their professional development days (aka PD days), prototyping science activities like catapults or writing science curriculum (like the stuff that high school science teachers put into their classroom lessons) for school districts.

What's it like working in a Science Centre?

Science World is an extremely dynamic place to work—everyday has a different look and feel to it. Whether I am out traveling, developing programs, watching shows, doing training, no two days ever look the same! Science World also has extremely diverse jobs—everything from programmers to exhibit designers to interpreters to engineers—attracting cool and energetic staff.

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate all the way!

What's you favorite science activity that you either developed or ran?

Difficult question as there are soooo many fun science activities! Probably one of my favorites is making spinning tops. I have made spinning tops from LEGO and from pie plates and pencils. And in most cases they spin better than the tops you buy at the store!

Did you always want to be a science program developer?

Oh no! I thought I might be a ballerina—until they 'politely suggested' that I would be better at something else. I thought that I might be scientist or possibly a forester. After high school, I really thought I wanted to be a physiotherapist. It wasn't until I was working at a summer science camp when I realized that I was passionate about science education and that's when I started to explore more education fields.

What's your favorite holiday?

Christmas at the de Grace residence. It includes lots of great home-made treats, ice-fishing, hockey on the skating rink and home-made presents under the tree!

What courses in high school prepared you for this field?

Since I was not too sure what I really wanted to be in high school, I took a broad range of courses (Science, Math, Law, Geography, English) just to keep my options open.

Where did you go to university?

I went to Queen's University in Kingston, ON where I took a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Biology.

How did you decide where to go?

I was looking for a smaller university, close to water (Lake Ontario) that offered physiotherapy.

What's your favorite piece of clothing?

In the children's section of Value Village I found an old Expo '86 t-shirt that has a cartoon drawing of Science World. My favourite shirt ever!

Was there extra training required for this career after you finished university? If so, what?

Yes, for this particular job, it required you to have a teacher's certificate. So, after my science degree, I went to teacher's college and got my teaching degree (1-year program at Simon Fraser University)

Meat. Yes or no?

Yes, I grew up in Northern BC and still love to eat wild meat—moose, deer, buffalo

What is the coolest part of your job?

Travelling. I get to go throughout BC—from small, northern communities to tiny little islands.

What's the worst part of your job?

Mmm, I don't get to work with the students nor the teachers for any length of time (it can be difficult to form relationships).

What is the last movie you saw? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Little Miss Sunshine. Thumbs WAYYYYYYYY up.

Ooooops! Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?

I did a show at Centre Stage (our main stage where we perform fun science demonstrations for visitors) with my fly down—does that count?

Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?

You gotta love what you do--It is not always about the money!

What are some great web links or references for someone interesting in reading up more about this career?

Science World:

Exploratorium...the grandfather of science centres:

A cool science centre in Australia:


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