Science Odyssey 2021: Ingenium museums offer inspiring, virtual experiences

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Ingenium - Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation

A national, two-week campaign is aiming to put the fun back into science.

Science Odyssey — Canada’s biggest festival for science and technology — will deliver engaging, educational activities to Canadians of all ages from May 1 to 16, 2021.

“Science Odyssey has marked its fifth anniversary, and every year more and more Canadians have explored science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities in their communities, or virtually from home. Now more than ever, we know science plays an important role in our everyday lives; it is our aim to spark an interest in science and make discovery accessible to all.”

~ Professor Alejandro Adem, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the main organizer for Science Odyssey

Two of the Ingenium museums — the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum — are participating in this year’s Science Odyssey with virtual offerings. 

A young man wearing a mask stands at a table, with two cedar boxes stacked in front of him. He is using a garden trowel to dig in a soil-like mixture inside the top box. Pieces of wood and an electric saw are visible in the workshop behind him.

On May 7, the general public is invited to learn about the power of earthworms through a free Zoom session about vermicomposting. The session will be hosted by Renée-Claude Goulet, Science Advisor for the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and special guest Akil Mesiwala, founder of The Box of Life. Registration is required; for details, visit Vermicomposting 101: Learn to compost indoors with worms.

“I feel like earthworms can really change the world,” says Mesiwala. His compact vermicomposting systems — known as “Worm Studios” are designed for indoor use. 

“A lot of people are just completely disconnected from nature,” he says. “So parents want to teach their children about natural systems, but how do you do that — if you’re living in a concrete jungle with very few parks around you? A worm bin is one small thing that lies in your kitchen, and you can teach your kids about bugs, about how the soil is created, and about the complete food cycle.” 

Over at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, staff are encouraging Canadians to tap into their inner scientist — from the comfort of home.

“You don’t need a fancy lab to be a scientist,” says Corrie Bouskill, Interpretation Officer at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. “We have almost 60 online activities — DIY experiments, challenges, and crafts — to help you explore science and technology.”

Bouskill is referring to the museum’s educational series called Try This Out. Each different activity explores an aspect of science, using simple, everyday materials from around home.  

“These are great resources for educators and for parents,” adds Bouskill.

While a small number of events are still happening in person — in nature settings where it’s easy to distance, for example — the vast majority of this year’s offerings are virtual. 

Science Odyssey is sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. This year, Canadians can virtually access more than 300 events hosted by nearly 200 different partners. 

For a full agenda of this year’s events and activities, visit Science Odyssey.

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Sonia Mendes

Sonia Mendes is the English Writer/Editor for Ingenium. She loves digging behind the scenes to tell the quirky, colourful stories of museum life and all things related to science and innovation.