Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Education

Participate in Science Rendezvous Kingston 2023

Each year, the Queen’s research community comes together to provide Kingstonians with a day of interactive and family-friendly science activities. As one of the longest-running and most successful outreach events in Canada, Science Rendezvous Kingston provides an opportunity for our faculty, students, and staff to give back to the community while exercising their ability to communicate with the public. The Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio is now calling out for researchers or groups interested in having a booth in Science Rendezvous Kingston 2023. The event will be hosted on May 13 at the Leon’s Centre.

During the annual event, thousands of visitors have first-hand opportunities to engage with scientists: asking questions, doing experiments, exploring artefacts, and using equipment. All activities are free, thus providing quality exhibits to families for whom costly museums, zoos, nature and environmental programs, and other science-rich experiential opportunities are out of reach.

From virtual tours of SNOLAB to birding guides, activity booklets, instructional guides, book recommendations and teaching modules, Science Rendezvous Kingston strives to educate, engage, and inspire learners of all ages to become aware of and trust science as well as the people behind it. After a virtual edition in 2021 and a hybrid one in 2022, the initiative is ready to go back to a full in-person event, while maintaining a website with educational resources available year-round.

Science Rendezvous Kingston is part of Science Odyssey, a national campaign created by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to celebrate Canadian achievements in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Welcoming new and exciting experiences

A limited number of booths are available for 2023. Individuals, labs and departments at Queen’s who would like to be a part of this exciting and impactful public education event are welcome to complete the application form by December 1, 2022 at 4:30 p.m.

Applicants are reminded that the event is family focused. While there is no fee for a booth, it is the responsibility of the booth coordinator to ensure that there are sufficient consumable materials and volunteers for the full day of activities.

Successful applicants will be advised of their place in the program by January 13, 2023.

Any questions, contact Lynda Colgan, Coordinator, Science Rendezvous Kingston and Executive Director, Science Rendezvous at Lynda.Colgan@queensu.ca

Communicating research beyond the academy

In-person workshops with The Conversation Canada will help Queen’s researchers reach bigger audiences with their expertise.

[graphic image] Queen's University & The Conversation workshops

Researchers are experts in their fields and know how society could make use of their expertise to support critical thinking and daily decision making related to a range of topics – from climate change, health, politics, technology, to the economy, and many other topics. But communicating evidence-based knowledge has its challenges: what platform to use? Which aspects of the research are the most interesting to the public? How to address complex issues in a language everyone can understand?

In two workshops hosted by University Relations, the editorial team of The Conversation Canada will walk researchers through these and other questions. The in-person, hands-on workshops will feature what makes a good article, how to explain your research effectively, and how to work with The Conversation to boost research promotion across mediums.

The workshops will be held on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Mitchell Hall (see sidebar to learn more). Faculty members, post-docs, and graduate students are welcome to participate. In the afternoon session, there will be a focus on how to promote research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Seats are limited to 40 participants in each session. Refreshments will be provided.

The Conversation and Queen’s

The Conversation, an online news platform created in Australia in 2011, pairs academic experts with experienced journalists to write informed content that can be shared and repurposed by media outlets worldwide. Following its success in Australia, regional editions began appearing worldwide and, in 2017, The Conversation Canada launched with support from some of the country’s top universities, including Queen’s, and Canada’s research funding agencies.

As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media. Almost 270 Queen’s researchers have published 425 articles that have garnered over 8 million views via The Conversation Canada’s website. Through the platform’s Creative Commons Licensing and newswire access, hundreds of major media outlets, including The National Post, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, The Weather Network, Today’s Parent, and Scientific American, have republished these pieces.

From cryptocurrencies to how eating rhythms impact our mental health, Queen’s researchers have written on a variety of timely and timeless topics. Some of our most-read articles looked at the physical symptoms caused by pandemic stress, the drama of Haitian children abandoned by UN fathers, the extinction of a bird species, the rising popularity of spirituality without religion, and the negative effects of salting icy roads on aquatic ecosystems.

The Conversation Canada and Queen’s University Workshops

Thursday, Oct. 20

Session 1:
10 to 11:30 a.m. (Click to register.)

Session 2 (STEM research):
2 to 3:30 p.m. (Click to register.)

Rose Innovation Hub Space,
Mitchell Hall

For any questions, contact researchcommunications@queensu.ca

The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement, bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “We have seen participation from every faculty, and Queen’s continues to show leadership in contributing to the platform among Canadian peers.”

The workshops: How to write for The Conversation

The workshops will be led by Scott White, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, and Nehal El-Hadi, the Science + Technology Editor of The Conversation Canada. The in-person program will highlight the changing media landscape, the role of The Conversation and researchers as credible news sources, and how to craft the perfect pitch. Participants will develop pitch ideas and can receive real-time editorial feedback.

Queen's marking Science Literacy Week

Each year, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) celebrates Science Literacy Week, an opportunity to showcase the Canadian research landscape through events and activities for families and children. The theme for Science Literacy Week 2022 is Mathematics. From Sept. 19 to 25, departments across the university will join the festivities through several activities aimed at engaging the public with the wonders of math – from pandemic modelling to geometry adventures.

Mathematics and infectious diseases

Queen’s Department of Mathematics will host David Earn (McMaster University) for a public lecture on "Learning from the pandemics of the last seven centuries" on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. The event will take place in the Biosciences Auditorium.

Dr. Earn has been Chair of the Modelling Consensus Table of the Ontario Science Advisory Table for COVID-19, and modelling from his group has helped guide the governmental response to COVID-19. He is also a recipient of the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society Research Prize and an Elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Earn will examine how historical records allow us to reconstruct patterns of disease spread, in some cases going back hundreds of years. His group at McMaster has been studying these patterns, analyzing data going back as far as 1348. In the lecture, he will discuss insights obtained from mathematical modelling inspired by these data, as well as the opportunities we have to improve our understanding of plague, influenza, COVID-19, and other diseases that cause pandemics.

The event is free and open to the public. Interested participants are asked to register.

Resources for the community

The Department of Mathematics is also partnering with Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) to curate a reading list of titles related to mathematics. The suggestions will include fiction books, as well as general interest and popular science titles. The list will be available from Sept. 18 on the KFPL website.

On Sept. 20, KFPL will host an online lunch and learn event, “Imagining the Future with Math.” Troy Day, head of the Department of Mathematics and part of the Provincial COVID-19 Modelling Consensus Table, is one of the panelists, accompanied by Dr. Earn. You can register for the event through the KFPL website.

The Faculty of Education will release a new episode of its Popular Podagogy podcast, which discusses how to combine innovative educational ideas with the everyday life of being a teacher. For the Science Literacy Week special episode, faculty member and host Christ Carlton will interview award-winning author Lindsey Carmichael, who has published several books for children and young adults. She will talk about what science literacy is, why it is important, and what role books play in science literacy.

Mathematics for kids

The Queen’s Vice-Principal Research Portfolio, through Science Rendezvous Kingston, will offer an online adventure for kids, available starting Sept. 19. The project, led by Professor Emerita Lynda Colgan and funded by NSERC, includes downloadable puzzles, released daily, that kids can print, colour, and fold into a booklet.

Award-winning children’s author and illustrator, Peggy Collins has created the characters for the booklet. The adventure features the Time Travelling Tangram Gang, a group of kids who unlock the portal to a time travel machine using tangrams. On their adventures, they meet children from ancient China, Mexico and Egypt who teach them about how mathematics was used during their time and the importance of math to their cultures.

To access information about this project and to download the puzzles, visit the website.

The right to read

To commemorate UNESCO World Literacy Day, we talked to Pamela Beach about literacy education research and how to provide support for children with reading disabilities.

Boy observes a book shelf with the word "Read".
"Discovering a new chapter", photo submitted by Goonay Yousefalizadeh to the 2022 Art of Research photo contest.

It’s been ten years since the Supreme Court of Canada released a decision recognizing reading as an essential human right. However, providing literacy education and access for all children, including those with reading disabilities and disorders like dyslexia, which make it difficult to process text, is a complex goal. Earlier this year, a report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) called for changes in how the province approaches literacy education. The report made headlines as it was scrutinized by experts across the country.

To recognize World Literacy Day (September 8), we spoke to Pamela Beach, a professor in Queen’s Faculty of Education, about the OHRC report and its main findings. Dr. Beach also talked about her research in literacy education and some of the insights around literacy she has gathered from her work with teachers across Ontario.

What are the highlights of the Ontario Right to Read Inquiry Report?

This has been a work in progress for several years now. The inquiry heard the experiences and difficulties of many families and individuals with reading disabilities like dyslexia and found that Ontario’s public education system has been unable to consistently support students with dyslexia.

One of the report’s recommendations I would highlight is the need for screening in the early years.  Screening tools or early assessments can work as a cautionary flag to teachers and educators, signaling that a student might be struggling in a foundational area like phonological and phonemic awareness. This way, educators can start some early interventions to assist students in need. This is already happening in school boards, although inconsistently, across Ontario.

Pamela Beach
Pamela Beach

How?

In my research, I am interested in how elementary teachers learn about literacy and reading instruction. I talk to many teachers about how they integrate this learning into their programs, and I've been fortunate to be in a lot of different classrooms. There are teachers and schools doing an amazing job and already including the recommended screening tools in their practice.

For example, they are looking at the role of phonemic awareness, that is, the ability to identify and manipulate the smallest sounds in spoken language. Research shows that phonemic awareness is one of the more difficult areas for individuals with dyslexia. And these schools are already using sound assessments to identify students that might be struggling with identifying individual sounds in words, and then working with these students to overcome these difficulties.

Is it a consensus that, the earlier you start interventions, the easier the process will be?

Absolutely. Early intervention gives us the best results.

A lot of the vocabulary that students get is indirect, but they also acquire vocabulary through reading – words that don't come up in our everyday speech but are in our books and other documents. By the time children are in Grade 2 or 3, they are expected to have quite a large vocabulary that they recognize, read, and understand. At that point, anyone who is struggling with basic components of phonemic awareness and letter/sound association is falling behind already.

What are the main gaps in assisting students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities?

A general classroom teacher can use good evidence-based instruction to identify reading difficulties and assist students. But some students will still need more intensive intervention to reach their potential, which might include one-on-one work with a special education teacher.

Again, some schools are really doing wonderful things with the resources they have, including training teachers in and already implementing the Empower Reading program. We need to continue to find ways to best support teachers in this journey.

A boy reading a book.
Early intervention is key to help kids who struggle with reading. (Unsplash/ Michał Parzuchowski)

How do teachers currently seek instruction or training on literacy education?

Over the last several years I’ve researched teachers’ professional learning as it relates to literacy instruction. I’ve looked at how teachers use multimedia online resources in self-directed learning, with very consistent findings. Teachers are always looking for ways to improve their knowledge by ensuring that they are using evidence-based resources.

Working with pre-service teachers, I’ve found that they are interested in both theoretical information and practical training. I think both are essential: you need to understand the theory and background information to make decisions in your classroom.

But also, looking for evidence-based resources can be a struggle because of how research is sometimes presented. We need to continue to mobilize research findings in a way that respects and attracts teachers.

What are your current research goals?

My next research project is taking more of an international perspective. I'm looking at alternative approaches to early years education, like Montessori or Reggio Emilia in Italy, and how literacy is integrated into these approaches. Of course, they stem from different languages and that makes a difference, but they've still been adapted to English language contexts, as well as to other languages. There are also interesting alternative programs being used in other countries, like England, China, and Japan, as well as across the Canadian provinces. I want to understand what these different programs are doing, what they have in common, and what materials they are using to support their students in literacy.

New program equips leaders to tackle global challenges

Queen’s launches first-in-Canada Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship.

[Drone photo of campus]

Queen’s has launched a new program to enable executives and professionals from a variety of sectors to better understand and address complex social and global challenges. The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact (ALSI) Fellowship is a first-in-Canada program that provides the tools, knowledge, and networks participants need to tackle the root causes of social problems – from housing affordability to climate change.

“To confront the significant social issues of our day, we need people with a deep understanding and appreciation of the complexities of how to make real impact,” says Jim Leech, former president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, former Chair of the Mastercard Foundation, and Chancellor Emeritus of Queen’s University. “Through the Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship we have the opportunity to foster a community of leaders, from all walks of life, able to drive meaningful solutions for people and the planet.”

Closing a gap

Social issues are complex and must be viewed from multiple perspectives to achieve meaningful outcomes. Leaders must also be equipped with various approaches to initiate or measure progress on impact-driven solutions. The fellowship responds to a gap in the higher education landscape.

The one-year, hybrid program draws from field-leading Queen’s research and industry experts, including environmental biologists, chemical engineers, and international business lawyers. It also applies a human-centric approach to investigate all dimensions of social issues, meaning that stakeholders are involved at all levels of decision-making and can move quickly from theory to practice and project application.

“The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship doesn’t look at social problems in isolation or from one perspective,” says Jean-Baptiste Litrico, Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Queen’s and the program’s co-director. “The program is grounded in the belief that real issues are systemic and require a multidimensional leadership approach to inspire tangible solutions.”

[Photo of people walking on Queen's campus]
ALSI Fellowship participants will engage in four on-campus residency sessions as part of the one-year hybrid program.

Commitment to social impact

The fellowship builds on Queen’s reputation as a leader in advancing sustainability and social impact. For two years in a row, the university has ranked top-10 globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure the institution’s contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  

In addition to being a Canadian-first, the ALSI program marks a milestone as the first cross-faculty delivered professional program. While co-led by faculty from the Smith School of Business and the Faculty of Education, it draws in individuals from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the Faculty of Law, and the Faculty of Arts and Science, reflecting the cross-campus commitment to driving social change.

“At Queen’s, we empower our community to advance social impact through research, teaching, and outreach activities,” says Ted Christou, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education and co-director of the program. “We can broaden this reach to likeminded leaders through a transformative curriculum focused on a diversity of perspectives and team-based solutions.”

Transformative leadership

In October 2022, the ALSI Fellowship will welcome its first cohort with an initial intake representing a variety of careers and backgrounds. Designed to accommodate those working full-time or with other commitments, the program will combine on-campus residential sessions with online synchronous learning, and a team-based culminating project.

The one-year program includes over 130 hours of curriculum that are divided into three themed semesters: discovery, design, and delivery. Each focuses on a core mindset required to understand drivers of problems and move from theory to practice.

Participants will also network with faculty, mentors, and peers, learning from leading experts in the field with both academic and applied experience.

The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship is currently recruiting participants for 2022-2023. For more information on the program, visit the website.

Inspiring musical minds

The latest donation by Bader Philanthropies, Inc., will ensure Sistema Kingston and the Faculty of Education continue to provide opportunities to aspiring young musicians and student teachers.

Grade 2 students participating in Sistema Kingston's end of year concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

One of the largest donations ever to the Queen’s Faculty of Education is going to inspire children and help them reach their full potential through the power of music.

A $533,000 (USD) gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., will guarantee funding for the next three years for Sistema Kingston – an intensive, after-school music program for elementary students focused on positive social development through the pursuit of musical excellence. Serving children from low-income and marginalized communities, Sistema Kingston is housed at the Queen’s Faculty of Education, which provides administrative support, office and storage space, and student-teacher volunteers. 

“Sistema Kingston uses the music ensemble – strings, choir, and rhythm – as a vehicle to develop important life skills like attentive listening, self-confidence and perseverance.  Through group-centered learning and regular performance opportunities, we foster creativity and personal responsibility, and, of course, our goal is to spark joy,” says Sistema Kingston Director Karma Tomm. “It’s amazing knowing that, with this donation, we have funding for multiple years, and we can focus on supporting children and strengthening connections between the university and the community.”

Tomm says the gift from Bader Philanthropies is the most generous donation the program has ever received. The gift will allow Sistema Kingston to reach more children by expanding its program to the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board – the region’s separate school board – and provide more practicum placements and hands-on learning opportunities for Queen’s Education students. 

Sistema Kingston, which started in 2015, runs from October to May. Beginning in Grade 2, students participate for 10 hours a week, and the program culminates in a year-end concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. With a goal to eliminate barriers to accessibility, Sistema Kingston provides high-quality music instruction at no cost to families and works with The Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Lending Library to provide free string instruments. 

The program goes beyond just learning to play the violin, viola, or cello. Sistema Kingston focuses on the whole child by supporting emotional wellness and creating safe spaces for personal expression. It also offers a nutritious food program to make sure kids have the energy needed to thrive.   
 
“At the Faculty of Education, we aim to create spaces where there is room for all to learn and grow. Sistema Kingston helps to build inclusive communities and brings music education, and its many benefits, to children in Kingston,” says Faculty of Education Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler. “We are honoured by Bader Philanthropies’ gift and grateful for their continued support of music in our community.”  

Sistema Kingston had to scale back programming due to COVID-19 restrictions, yet it highlighted that technology can be a tool to help teach. Reflecting on lessons learned during the pandemic, Tomm says the grant gives Sistema Kingston an opportunity to explore how to balance the benefits of technology and the online environment with the benefits of in-person engagement in an equitable way for students from all economic backgrounds.  

Tomm is thrilled the new funding from Bader Philanthropies ensures the program grows and thrives by expanding to a new school board and providing more opportunities to both aspiring young musicians and student teachers.

“Our goal is to reach more kids,” Tomm says. “I am really touched by (Bader Philanthropies’) confidence in what we do and their confidence in the way Queen’s and Kingston can work together to make our community a better place.”

Local partnerships support education abroad

Hakeem Subair of 1 Million Teachers speaks during the Muna Taro launch.
Hakeem Subair of 1 Million Teachers speaks during the Muna Taro launch event at the Tett Centre. 

With 13 million children who are without access to schools in Nigeria alone, there is an urgent need for educational support – a trend which is expected to grow over time. Adding to the complexities of this issue are the intersections between gender and access to resources in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To address these challenges, modern policy-driven solutions that are culturally attuned, and advance sustainable community-led changes are needed. Working towards this end, Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, and the City of Kingston recently co-hosted an event at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning to showcase and raise awareness on enhancing learning in Nigeria.

Muna Taro (We are coming together) is a collaboration between three organizations based out of Nigeria: 1 Million Teachers, Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, and Girl Rising.

The exhibit, My Story of Water, uses the power of art to foster creativity and resiliency and was open to the public between June 2- 29. The display included hand-painted water cans and photographs emphasizing the importance of safe access to water, sanitation, pollution, environmental protection, and how basic needs are fundamental to empowering educational development.   

The launch event included comments from Queen’s Provost Mark Green, Dean of the Faculty of Education Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of Smith School of Business Wanda Costen, St. Lawrence College President Glenn Vollebregt, Kingston Economic Development Council CEO Donna Gillespie, as well as the Nigerian High Commissioner, Nigerian Ambassador, and Special Advisers to the President of Nigeria.

“The showcase displays collaboration of like-minded people looking to enhance and provide access to education for the most vulnerable members of our communities,” says Hakeem Subair, founder of 1 Million Teachers and a Queen’s alumnus. “We need to show the world what we’re doing, but more importantly how to make society better, and hopefully we can get support from other people who are not yet part of our movement.”

With the exhibition focusing on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation, Queen’s and the Kingston community continues to build ties with Nigeria and support Muna Taro’s initiatives and pursuit of educational reform.

Wanda Costen and Rebecca Luce-Kapler share a laugh.
Dean of Smith School of Business Wanda Costen, left, and Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty Education discuss their support of the Muna Taro program.

Relationship-building organizations

1 Million Teachers is an organization that hopes to attract, train and retain teachers through the use of their online platform and learning modules. Queen’s connection to Muna Taro stems from the CEO of 1 Million Teachers, and Smith School of Business graduate, Hakeem Subair. In 2018, the Faculty of Education partnered with 1 Million Teachers to assist with program development and to create a practice that supports learning in Nigeria and beyond, while advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“When we started 1 Million Teachers we wanted to support teachers and when we were doing that we started seeing gaps in our programming – areas such as inclusivity, and gender responsive education,” Subair says. “The gaps we were seeing led us to taking a systems approach because most times you could see yourself working on a solution, and that solution may become part of the problem. This process led to us collaborating with all the partners we are working with today.”

The Five Cowries art initiative aims to improve educational outcomes by stimulating engagement and encouraging creativity through the amplification of narratives about social and environmental impact in Nigerian.

Girl Rising empowers young girls through the power of story telling and raising awareness of the barriers preventing girls from attending school and gaining an education. From combating early marriage, sex trafficking, domestic slavery and gender-based violence, Girl Rising’s mission is to create transformational change in the way girls are valued.

Together, these organizations advocate for grass roots changes environmental and social and environmental norms across Nigeria, and 14 other African countries.

Learn more by visiting the Muna Taro and Faculty of Education website.

Cast your vote for the Art of Research

The public has until June 2 to vote for their favourite Queen's research photo in the People’s Choice category.

[Collage of photos with text: Art of Research photo contest]
A selection of Queen's research photos included in the People's Choice vote as part of the Art of Research photo contest.

Voting is now open for the People’s Choice prize in the annual Art of Research photo contest. The public is invited to cast their ballot and participate in promoting the diversity of research happening across Queen’s.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations), the annual contest is an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to mobilize their research beyond the academy. The contest is aimed at providing a creative and accessible method of sharing the ground-breaking research being done by the Queen’s community and celebrating the global and social impact of this work.

Contest prizes

The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to celebrate the impact of research in advancing these important global goals. Five new categories inspired by the SDGs were introduced for this year’s contest alongside the popular People’s Choice prize.

Images selected for voting in the People’s Choice are entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee.

All prizes come with a monetary prize of $250.

Cast your vote

The survey closes on June 2 at midnight. Winners of the 2022 Art of Research photo contest will be announced shortly following the vote.

To learn more about past contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

2022 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

  • Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research)
  • Kanonhsyonne - Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)
  • Nicholas Mosey, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Heidi Ploeg, QFEAS Chair for Women in Engineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Ruth Dunley, Associate Director, Editorial Strategy, Office of Advancement
  • Jung-Ah Kim, PhD Student, Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies
  • Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, University Relations
  • Véronique St-Antoine, Communications Advisor, NSERC

Science Rendezvous Day declared

Queen’s and the Kingston community prepare for popular science festival recently proclaimed an official day on May 7.

Kids participate on hands-on science activities during Science Rendezvous
Leon's Centre in Downtown Kingston will host over 30 hands-on science activities for people of all ages.

From a bird walk across City Park to seeing real fossils of Ice Age creatures, Queen’s will be once again hosting its favourite hands-on science event: Science Rendezvous. After being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and pivoting to virtual in 2021, the Kingston-based science festival is ready for an in-person comeback. Earlier this year, Mayor Bryan Paterson, on behalf of the Kingston City Council, proclaimed May 7, 2022 as “Science Rendezvous Kingston Day” in the City of Kingston.

“I like to say Science Rendezvous Kingston is like a spring garden that bursts into full bloom each May. It is colourful, diverse and waiting to be walked through, discovered and enjoyed,” says Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education Lynda Colgan, who has been leading the event in Kingston for the past decade.

Science Rendezvous is part of Science Odyssey, a country-wide science festival powered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to celebrate Canadian research in all STEM areas. This year will mark the 11th annual Science Rendezvous celebrated in Kingston.

The free, family-oriented event at the Leon’s Centre in downtown Kingston will feature Queen’s research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A large team of volunteers, including many Queen’s faculty, staff and students will be on hand to help the public navigate through the exhibits and answer visitor’s questions. Over 30 interactive displays will be set up, covering topics like space research, the human brain and heart, mining, climate, robotics and more.

Exhibitors include the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and SNOLAB, the Queen’s Cardiovascular Imaging Network at Queen's (CINQ Lab), the Chemistry Department, the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and the Queen’s Baja Dune Buggy team.

Kids participate on hands-on science activities during Science Rendezvous
Outdoor activities are also part of Science Rendezvous 2022.

That same day, the Kingston Frontenac Public Library will host two different hands-on workshops, “Ice Age”, for grades 4-6, and “Youth Climate Lab Policy Jam,” for secondary students. While these activities are also free, pre-registration is required due to limited space.

Ahead of the big day, the Science Rendezvous team will offer a sneak peek of the activities at Kingston’s Springer Market Square on Wednesday, May 4 from 3-6 pm where the public will have the chance to interact with robots, look inside working beehives, see fossil skulls from pre-historic giant mammals, and operate a ping pong ball cannon.

The program for this year’s science festival also includes virtual presentations and workshops running from May 6-13, including a virtual tour of SNOLAB, Canada’s deep underground research laboratory near Sudbury, Ontario, and a presentation on how robots can improve the daily work of dairy farms. Those virtual activities require pre-registration.

On May 4, the Science Rendezvous Kingston team is also launching STEM on DEMAND, a collection of resources for educators and families to keep STEM learning alive all year long. “With over 30 groups providing videos, activity booklets and instruction sheets, children can learn and have fun to extend the Science Rendezvous experience in many purposeful and engaging ways,” says Dr. Colgan.

For more information and registration links, access the website.

Transforming the global academy

Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

[Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement in 2021.

As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.

 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Education