By: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate
School was in session on Saturday last week when SFU opened its doors to the public as part of its participation in Science Rendezvous, one of Canada’s biggest science fairs.
Science Rendezvous began in 2008 when the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology saw the potential of working together to create events to engage the world in science and engineering research, and to increase scientific awareness and literacy.
Science Rendezvous has since grown to involve over 40 Canadian research institutions and 85 community partnerships organizations throughout Canada. Apart from SFU, the Science Rendezvous event took place in over 300 locations across Canada on the same day — including UBC and KPU in the Lower Mainland — engaging visitors with experiments, demonstrations, and lab tours.
Cynthia Henson, the Outreach and Engagement Manager for the Faculty of Science at SFU, is the organizer of SFU Science Rendezvous. According to Henson, SFU decided to participate in Science Rendezvous to help engage the community, and to create a “more integrated science learning environment.” The event also allowed SFU to connect and work with community partners.
The theme this year was “Full STEAM ahead” and it incorporated arts into STEM learning. The event saw around 6,000–8,000 visitors, ranging from young children and their parents to high school students and seniors. Henson explained that the “event is promoted heavily in nearby communities and school districts and tries to get as many young learners as possible.”
This year, SFU was also able to collaborate with other organizations, such as the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, to celebrate International Astronomy Day, which takes place around the same time as Science Rendezvous. In celebration of astronomy, attendees also experienced all-day solar viewings and tours of the Trottier Observatory.
The participants were treated to 60 different exhibitions and hands-on activities at SFU, including the Infinity Glow Chemistry Magic Show by The Chemvengers, a tour of the Trottier Observatory, and a liquid nitrogen ice cream booth.
“Kids were just thrilled to come to SFU as a lot of them are first time visitors of the campus,” said Henson.
SFU faculty members and student volunteers also enjoyed the event. Every year, the Faculty of Science puts a call out for exhibitors and volunteers and these calls are always fruitful. In fact, Henson said “the enthusiasm to participate [. . .] now becomes an issue as campus space and facilities may be a challenge to accommodate everyone.” SFU staff members were exhausted afterwards due to the large number of visitors, but they thought the event productive and fulfilling.
Henson was pleased with the event, calling the event “a very promising community engagement opportunity that we hope will continue for the many years to come.” She hopes to continue growing the event, adding even more activities catered to additional demographics, such as a beer brewing event for adults, and cultural events for diversity.