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Science Rendezvous Renaissance

After a pivot to virtual offerings in 2021, Science Rendezvous Kingston will once again bring Queen’s researchers and community members together in-person to share in science-based fun.

Dinosaur skeleton in exhibition at the Leon's Centre.
Science Rendezvous Kingston at Leon's Centre in 2019.

Each year, Canada’s national science festival, Science Rendezvous, is held across 30 cities with over 300 events and thousands of hands-on activities. The festival provides participants of all ages with the opportunity to engage with science and to learn about the discoveries being made by Canadian researchers across the nation.

Since 2011, Kingston has been home to one of the most successful local chapters of Science Rendezvous, regularly attracting over 4,000 visitors from across eastern Ontario. Under the leadership of Lynda Colgan, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education, Science Rendezvous Kingston is committed to engaging people of all ages with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research, and creating an unforgettable and educational experience for all attendees.

Virtual Pivot

Last year, Science Rendezvous Kingston had to adapt to limitations brought on by COVID-19. Despite the challenges, Dr. Colgan, Science Rendezvous co-coordinator, Kim Garrett, and a small team orchestrated a successful pivot from in-person to online events, developing a unique 16-day Science Rendezvous program that balanced screen-time sessions and kitchen table or outdoor activities. The events reached over 29,000 people from around the globe.

Video capture of a researcher doing an experiment in the lab.
Science Rendezvous Kingston 2021 featured online activities children could do at home, like this strawberry DNA extraction video.

"Although we hosted live webinars and Q&A sessions, the virtual nature of our event meant that we could record the full session. Soon after the 'live' event, we posted each session on our virtual platform for 'on demand' viewing – a feature that proved to be enormously popular with visitors to the site," says Dr. Colgan.

In recognition of their efforts, the Science Rendezvous Kingston team was awarded the COVID Creative Award by the Board of Directors of Science Rendezvous Canada for executing a successful educational experience for their participants and for their resiliency, creativity, and positivity during these challenging times.

Science Rendezvous 2022

This year, Science Rendezvous Kingston’s theme is ‘DISCOVER’. According to Dr. Colgan, the theme was selected to "highlight the leading-edge STEM research that is being done at Queen’s in all domains and encouraging young students to see themselves as future researchers and scientists who are on a quest to discover solutions to problems that face our world."

Science Rendezvous Kingston will have a hybrid design, offering both virtual and in person options for participants. The hope is that visitors will be able to engage in hands-on learning while preserving the best aspects of 2021’s virtual experience.

These year’s virtual events will include presentations from researchers including Queen’s Astrophysics PhD Candidate Connor Stone, a webinar on robotics use on a dairy farm, a virtual tour of SNOLAB, and a live-streamed hook-up with researchers at a lab in the South Pole.

In addition to webinars and virtual presentations, last year’s popular digital resource, the Daily Book Lists including many Indigenous titles, will once again be available during the 2022 festival. Other digital resources for this year include downloadable self-directed activities such as a geological scavenger hunt and an on-line workshop about how to build an anatomical model of the human GI system.

These virtual and at-home activities will be accompanied by in-person events and workshops including a 'STEM Sampler' in Market Square featuring demonstrations by Ingenuity Labs, Queen’s Physics, the McDonald Institute, Limestone Bee Keepers, and Research Casting International. Visitors to the Leon’s Centre will also be treated to hands-on workshops about the Ice Age and climate change, and a Guided Bird Walk with Dr. Fran Bonier and Dr. Paul Martin through City Park.

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will continue to facilitate events to break down barriers between scientists and the public.

"By bringing science, technology, engineering and math to the streets, we make it possible for visitors across all ages to mix and mingle with award-winning scientists and researchers in the absence of intimidation," says Dr. Colgan. "Informal learning environments like Science Rendezvous can spark student interest in STEM, provide opportunities to broaden and deepen students’ engagement, reinforce scientific concepts and practices introduced during the school day, and promote an appreciation for and interest in the pursuit of science in school and in daily life."

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will run from May 6 to May 20. Learn more about the program on the website.