Our stop in Port Coquitlam was a highly anticipated event, especially since it was to be an extravagant science carnival. Ed, the science teacher at Terry Fox Secondary School had been planning this event for several months and wanted to bring 1000 visitors to the event. In combination with the the Power of Ideas tour, he had invited other science outreach organizations including Let’s Talk Science, the Vancouver Aquarium (Aqua Van) local universities and colleges, as well as the town’s mayor! Ed did an amazing job marketing the event from the posters plastered on each wall at the school to local media coverage.
During the day the exhibit was bustling with students. We had such a great response with many students coming back again to ask further questions, to solve problems they were working on or to play with the exhibits again. The evening event was open the public and was so large that I couldn’t see all the little workshops or booths set up. I was so thoroughly impressed by how many people came to the science night.
Public nights are always interesting because of the diverse demographic (from young kids to grandparents) and I often underestimate the amount of engagement we’ll get from the public because the information can be quite dense. However, people continue to prove me wrong. I observed families that took each part of the exhibit seriously from collaborating at the mystery tube to asking questions about the Large Hadron Collider. I was thrilled to see the genuine interest that these families had in a subject that can be difficult to understand. Such interactions make me think back to exhibit design and the need for diverse type of exhibits from your traditional information panels, to stimulus-response and exploratory activities. An entire exhibit needs to have a little bit of everything in order to cater to a range of audiences.
Here are the problems, potential solutions and/or ideas that the students had: