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Eureka! Festival brings science to the people

Concordia's contribution aims to demystify physics and chemistry
June 13, 2012
By Tom Peacock

Eureka! Festival | Photo by Roland Lorente
The sixth annual Eureka! Festival is coming up. | Photo by Roland Lorente

This weekend, Montreal’s Old Port will host the city’s sixth annual Eureka! Festival, a celebration of science aimed at the general public, and once again a Concordia contingent will be entertaining visitors with a wealth of exciting activities.

The free outdoor festival, which begins on Friday, June 15, is designed with the whole family in mind, and features numerous shows and activities. The hands-on attractions consist mostly of simple scientific procedures designed to be both fun and informative.

The Concordia team will offer several different activities under the heading Physics and Chemistry in Daily Life, including lather printing using shaving cream and food colouring; papermaking; making giant bubbles; can and apple crushing, and riding on a hovercraft.

Elie Saade, an undergraduate student in Concordia’s biochemistry department and enthusiastic Eureka! animator, says it’s rewarding to see how absorbed the young visitors become when they take part in the activities.

“The kids love it,” he says. “Some kids stay there the whole day, and you see them passing by four or five times. They drag their parents back to the tables, and they just want to do things again, and again.”

Saade says even though the simple activities are aimed at young people, a lot of the parents have a hard time concealing their enthusiasm, too. “Some of them use their kids as an excuse to come back to the tables,” he says laughing.

Though it’s a long day for the Concordia students animating the various activities, Saade says the whole experience is very rewarding. “It’s great to see how the simplest things can cause so much excitement,” he says. “To go back to the roots of what we are doing, and to give that knowledge and that kind of excitement to the kids is really fun.”

Miriam Posner, technical supervisor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has acted as one of the coordinators for the Concordia team at Eureka! for several years. In her opinion, the experience is invaluable for students.

“Our students get an opportunity to go out into the community and to serve as ambassadors,” she says. “They get to see how science can be explained to young children in such a way that it’s fun.”

Stay tuned to NOW for a slideshow from the event.

Related links:
•    Eureka! Festival
•    Concordia Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry 
•    Concordia Department of Physics


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