Science outreach festival celebrates research community

Local impact

Science outreach festival celebrates research community

Families across Southeastern Ontario and special guests joined Science Rendezvous Kingston on May 13.

By Communications Staff

May 25, 2023


What happens when you gather a vintage firetruck, state-of-the-art robots, and medical students doing live ultrasounds of their own hearts? Guests were able to experience all of this and more at  Science Rendezvous Kingston, the largest science outreach pop-up event in Canada.

On Saturday, May 13, more than 5,300 youth and families visited Leon’s Centre and The Tragically Hip Way to engage with 50 booths and demonstrations that covered topics from cardiovascular health, robotics and plant sciences to geology, engineering, and art conservation. A team of over 430 volunteers, including Queen’s faculty members, researchers, and students, as well as representatives from local museums, schools, and community partners, prepared the activities.

“Science Rendezvous Kingston is an important opportunity for Kingston and Southeastern Ontario families to informally interact with our research practitioners, creating and having fun together,” says Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research) Nancy Ross. “We strongly believe that events like this help to reduce the gaps between science and society, build trust in science and in scientific institutions, and inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators”.

A record of success

Science Rendezvous Kingston is part of country-wide initiative Science Rendezvous, created in 2008 to engage Canadian citizens in science and engineering. Currently, Science Rendezvous is the largest single-day science festival in the country and spreads through 30 cities in 10 provinces and 2 territories.

Queen’s has been the proud host of Science Rendezvous Kingston since 2011. The Kingstonian event, one of the most successful in Canada, has been recognized with national awards in 2020 and 2022. This year, Science Rendezvous Board of Directors selected Kingston as a showcase event to promote the importance and the impact of the science festival.

Special guests for the showcase event included Alejandro Adem (President of the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada - NSERC), Bryan Paterson (Mayor of Kingston), Ted Hsu (Member of Provincial Parliament for Kingston and the Islands), Dr. Ross, Dwayne Miller (Founder and President of Science Rendezvous), Arthur McDonald (Nobel laureate and Queen’s Professor Emeritus), members of the Science Rendezvous Board of Directors, and senior administrators from local school boards and community organizations.

Choose your own adventure

Throughout the day, visitors were treated to live demonstrations by Queen’s Department of Chemistry, Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit, and Kingston Fire and Rescue. Four leading Canadian authors – Helaine Becker, L. E. Carmichael, Ishta Mercurio and Rochelle Strauss – also read their science stories to the public.

For the first time, Science Rendezvous Kingston featured a Sensory Friendly Science Zone, designed to support children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, social and emotional mental health needs, or other sensory-related or physical disabilities. This pilot project was sponsored by an NSERC PromoScience Supplement and offered exclusive booths and activities where children could explore exhibits and interact with researchers in a quieter environment.

“With my background in educational assessment, I know that it is wrong to say that something is perfect, but I honestly think that the highest possible score for a public education event was surpassed on Saturday May 13th,” says Queen’s Professor Emerita Lynda Colgan, founder and co-coordinator of Science Rendezvous Kingston. “From Dr. Adem to the four-year old ringing the bell on the vintage fire truck, there were smiles all around as the informal learning infused Leon’s Centre and Tragically Hip Way. It was a celebratory community event that will set a new standard for STEM festivals across the country”.

While the in-person event has ended, Science Rendezvous Kingston continues online. Librarians at Queen’s Faculty of Education prepared booklists with suggested readings to complement Science Rendezvous activities, both in English and in French. Additionally, booth presenters developed activities for families and children to do at home or at school, including a dancing raisins experiment, an artificial heart craft, instructions for creating a bird-friendly backyard, and a balloon rocket.

For those looking to attend next year, Science Rendezvous Kingston – INNOVATE will take place on May 11, 2024. Please visit the website for more details.

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