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News Release - Queen’s Science Rendezvous Kingston Virtual Platform to Stay Live and Grow with an Educational Game App: The Exploratorium

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

For Immediate Release

Science Rendezvous Kingston was a 16-day event in 2021—running from May 1 – 16 at its virtual conference site: https://ygksciencerendezvous.expofp.com/ The popularity of the event was evident. In five days, attendance at live talks by Queen’s researchers, graduate students and special guests averaged 29,000 virtual attendees. We are still gathering data for the “on demand” views of those talks and the “hits” for resources such as book lists, bird checklists, and STEM@Home experiments, but social media posts attest to their success and use in schools and the community. In response, not only we have decided to keep our conference space available for the next year, but we are “sweetening the pot” by adding an exciting new component: an educational game app called The STEMygk Exploratorium.  The app aims to keep STEM momentum growing in a fun way as students and their families embrace summertime.

At this time, The Exploratorium is comprised of two imaginary, interactive environments: Connections City and Space Base. Connections City is a futuristic city that is explored hopping on and off of a roller coaster. Leondardo Da Vinci himself will host a tour with video presentations and mini-game challenges about engineers and the amazing work that they do. On Space Base, players join a physics team based on the moon. Guided by astrophysicist, Simran, players learn about physics and astronomy, collect fun space facts, meet Zero Gee a “punny” alien friend who loves to tell science jokes and apply their knowledge in fun tasks.

The Exploratorium is the concretization of one of the principal goals of Science Rendezvous Kingston, i.e., to mentor and support and encourage youth to pursue interests and develop expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. To achieve this, Coordinators, Dr. Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett, have been working with a small team of developers since September, 2020.

The key members of that team are two 16 year-old Sydenham High School students, Ben Black and Kye Hallam. In addition to their Grade 11 classes, Ben and Kye have devoted innumerable hours developing this cutting edge online game for Science Rendezvous Kingston. The teens were both enrolled in the Computer Coding Focus Program offered by Limestone District School Board and supplemented the course work with self-directed online learning for the first half of the school year.

In consultation and collaboration with Queen’s Engineering Outreach Manager Scott Compeau and Outreach Coordinator, Carmen Maerz; and, a team of faculty and graduate students from the Physics and Astronomy Department, led by Assistant Professor (Particle Physics) Alex Wright and M.Sc. student, Simran Nirval, Ben and Kye incorporated key concepts into the app content and challenges, based on an original game vision suggested by Dr. Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett.

The full development team, including Kye’s mother, Graphic Designer and Educational Developer, Cheryl Hallam, as well as Haley Sherman, Graphic Designer, met weekly from September to May, working together to problem solve, share progress and celebrate milestones, reaching out for guidance and expert input, as needed. The boys agreed with Kye’s assessment, “Remote learning this year certainly was a help – it’s given us the flexibility we needed to get this massive project done.”

Ben Black and Kye Hallam have started a company called Ericthonius Games—The Exploratorium is their first release, and there are expansion plans to include other virtual environments focusing on Chemistry, Paleontology, the Environment, and Arctic & Antarctic research and exploration.

The Exploratorium is available free through the App Store and Google Play by searching  for STEM YGK Exploratorium through  the Apple App store and Google Play Store. Rated E for everyone.



Science Rendezvous Kingston website 


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Follow Science Rendezvous Kingston on Twitter: @Stemygk

Follow Science Rendezvous Kingston on Facebook: @ScienceRendezvousKingston

Follow Science Rendezvous Kingston on Instagram: @stemygk


Media Contact
Julie Brown
Media Relations Officer 


About Queen’s University

Queen’s University has a long history of scholarship, discovery, and innovation that has shaped our collective knowledge and helped address some of the world’s most pressing concerns. Home to more than 25,000 students, the university offers a comprehensive research-intensive environment with prominent strengths in physics, cancer research, geoengineering, data analytics, surveillance studies, art conservation, and mental health research. Welcoming and supporting students from all countries and backgrounds to a vibrant, safe, and supportive community is an important part of the Queen’s experience. Diverse perspectives and a wealth of experience enrich our campus and our community. A core part of our mission is to engage our students, staff, and faculty in international learning and research, both at home and abroad.

Queen’s University is ranked first in Canada and fifth in the world in the 2021 Time Higher Education Impact Rankings. The rankings measured over 1,200 post-secondary institutions on their work to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).



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