An award-winning Western team is planning a free, family-friendly event full of science and art exploration for kids and community members of all ages.
Science Rendezvous will take over Western’s Alumni Stadium on May 13 as part of a nationwide event bringing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programming to the masses in more than 30 Canadian cities.
“We invite people of all ages to come out and spend a day of discovery with us,” said Carly Charron, BSc’19, the communications lead for the event and a PhD candidate in biology.
It will be the sixth year Western has created a day of Science Rendezvous activities for the public.
Last year Western’s efforts drew 4,000 guests and earned recognition from Science Rendezvous through the “STEAM Big” award for creating an outstanding event.
Katie Miller, the executive director of Science Rendezvous, a national non-profit, said the Western team “inspired countless people in London and the surrounding areas and I truly believe their impact on the community will be felt for generations.”
Western was one of just nine sites across the country that pulled off an in-person Science Rendezvous event last year.
“Working with so many incredible volunteers, departments and community partners this team created a world-class science festival full of exciting and interactive learning experiences,” Miller said. “They love STEAM and are so good at showcasing why it is important in our everyday lives.”
Faculty lead Jan Cami, a physics and astronomy professor, said the team of student organizers – many of them new to Science Rendezvous last year – blew him away.
“For me, it’s incredible. I’m super proud of them. It was a real privilege to work with them,” Cami said. Some, like Charron, are returning this year.
“They’re driven by passion, but they also have very high levels of creativity and commitment,” he added.
The free event runs from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Alumni Stadium. No prior registration is required.
“Our whole team’s goal is just for kids to come out and learn something new. Hopefully it will spark something in them. We want to find something they’re interested in and might want to pursue in their studies and into their careers as well,” Charron said.
Demonstrations and activities will run until 7:30 p.m., followed by stage shows. The night will end with a fireworks display that was a big hit last year, Charron said. Food trucks and concession stands will be open throughout the day.
There are 40 booths offering fun activities and sharing tidbits of knowledge from Western faculties and programs.
“It’s Western researchers showing people in the community, ‘this is how our research impacts your life, this is how science and technology is present in everything you do, from morning to evening.’ It’s one of the few opportunities they get to talk to real scientists and ask them whatever questions they have, and see how science actually works,” Cami said.
“It’s the kind of event I wish would have existed when I was a kid.”
The activities available cover a wide and eclectic range.
Learn the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding at the origami station. Conduct experiments to learn about chemistry. Explore the worlds of robotics and coding with age-appropriate demonstrations and tasks. Or visit the fan-favourite gummy bear slingshot to measure the distance of flying candies and learn about statistics in a sweet way.
“We have lots of different departments participating; there’s something for everyone at this year’s event,” Charron said.
More than 30 graduate students, plus a few faculty members, have been meeting since September to plan and prepare for the Science Rendezvous event.
There are about 400 volunteers signed up to help make the day run smoothly. Witnessing the joy from children at Science Rendezvous is the best result for a hard-working organizing team, Cami said.
“Seeing all these happy little faces discovering the world, that’s the main reward we’re looking for.”