Slime balls and fire tornadoEs are part of the fun and learning at Science Rendezvous

Science Rendezvous aims to motivate children from an early age to pursue an interest in science.  KIRA KOOP, UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA

Science Rendezvous aims to motivate children from an early age to pursue an interest in science. KIRA KOOP, UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA

Some of the world’s most important scientific discoveries, from computerized weather forecasting systems to the invention of insulin, were made by Canadian scientists.

Science Rendezvous (SR), Canada’s largest nationwide science festival on May 12, aims to build on that legacy by exciting and motivating future generations of innovators to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

SR invites the public to the places where science happens – local universities, colleges and public spaces – to engage with the world-class research and innovation happening in Canada.

SR was launched in 2008 as a joint program between the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Since then the festival has flourished, and events are held at nearly every major Canadian city by more than 6,000 scientists, researchers and student volunteers.

Last year over 300 free events hosted by 125 partners in communities across the country attracted more than 210,000 attendees. This year the organization’s goal is to reach more than 300,000 people.

In 2018, SR is adding art to the traditional STEM disciplines to generate new and creative ideas to support the theme Full Steam Ahead.

“SR’s mission is to create a true culture of science in Canada by providing exciting hands-on experiences for the public to engage with STEAM, and opportunities for the current and next generation of Canadian innovators to interact with one another and the public, showcase their creativity and practise their scientific communication skills,” says the organization’s executive director, Kathleen Miller.

Science Rendezvous also signals the start of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Science Odyssey, a week-long focus on science and technology. One of NSERC’s projects, Science Exposed, a photographic contest for images related to scientific research, will be exhibited at various SR sites across the country.

NSERC says researchers are often asked to share their work, and images are “an effective, relatable way to share scientific knowledge.”

Ms. Miller says that while there is something for everyone at SR, most of the demonstrations are designed for five- to 12-year-olds. Stage shows, robotics, virtual reality, INVENTours, large-scale experiments and demonstrations, science buskers and Science Chase races are offered at most event sites.

“We want to get families out to the events. We know that kids decide if they’re going to pursue a career in STEAM early on, so the earlier we can encourage that excitement and passion the better,” she adds.

“Slime balls, virtual reality, liquid nitrogen ice-cream, fire tornadoes, walking on water, and explosions are some of my family’s favourite activities,” she says.

Each SR event is unique and created by current researchers, innovators and students. Collectively, Science Rendezvous is Canada’s largest, one-day free celebration of science and engineering.

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