School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Science Rendezvous: Inspiring the next generation of scientists

Science Rendezvous

Anthony Pugh

Six Science Rendezvous volunteers smiling

Science Rendezvous Volunteers
Left to right: Alvine Kamaha, Caleb Miller, Ted Zhao, Satoko Asahi, Joshua E Bonatt, Ian Lam

How can scientists inspire the next generation to choose careers in science? One way is through outreach events like Science Rendezvous, a science fair that shows children and teens that science is both fun and interesting. Gillian Mackey (PhD: Chemistry) and Alvine Kamaha (PhD: Physics) were two of the many Queen’s graduate students who participated in this year’s event.

Mackey has taken part in Science Rendezvous for the last five years. This year, she coordinated a team of chemistry graduate students at the event. The team set up three different experiments to be conducted by kids, teens and their families. Through the experiments, the participants made silly putty, played with giant soap bubbles, and copper-plated nails by using pennies.

Mackey has seen Science Rendezvous explode in Kingston over the last five years. The event now attracts about 3000 people and has been moved from Grant Hall to the K-Rock Centre. This excites Mackey because educating the public about science is highly important to her. Mackey likes working with kids and most enjoys seeing the energy in children who have never conducted an experiment before. She is especially conscious of the fact that not all children have equal opportunities to participate in science. She hopes that experiences at the event will inspire children to learn more about science and to consider becoming scientists when they are older.

Kamaha has participated in the event for the last two years. She was thrilled to coordinate a team of her colleagues in physics after her positive experience in her first year. The team created a cloud chamber which allowed participants to trace the path of a charged particle. Through this participants saw the footprint of radiation. The team also put together a Kelvin water dropper which uses falling water droplets to generate electricity.

Kamaha takes part in the event because she wants young people to see science as accessible and fun. Displaying this side of science means that more people will see it as something they can do and something they want to do. She was delighted by one child who did not want to leave her team’s booth and by two teens who returned several times to repeat the experiments. She also liked witnessing families interacting with each other while performing the experiments. Kamaha views the event as an opportunity for personal development by improving her own skills in areas such as public presentation. Participants ask a lot of complicated questions and require uncomplicated explanations.

Both Kamaha and Mackey enjoy sharing their knowledge with the community. Science Rendezvous is one forum where this sharing can take place. Scientists like these two students and their team-members will undoubtedly excite young people about science and inspire future generations of scientists.