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‘It’s all about unleashing your inner scientist’: Science carnival comes to Guelph

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It was a weekend for the naturally curious.

“It's all about unleashing your inner scientist,” said co-founder of Royal City Science, Joanne O’Meara.

Royal City Science launched their first celebration of all things science for youth in the community.

“We're just trying to bring science to the community instead of bringing the community to science,” said co-founder of Royal City Science, Orbax.

Dubbed the ‘Curiosity Carnival’, the event ran throughout the weekend at the University of Guelph.

“We find that so many of them are interested in STEM, so many are interested in science, mostly because they're just interested in the world around us,” Orbax told CTV News Sunday.

The busking zone inside the MacKinnon building was brought to life with hands-on activities and programming provided by local organizations and university departments.

“This kind of STEM event for families is a great way for kids to have that magic experience,” said parent Jenny Lucs.

“My daughters are really interested in science and I think it's really good to encourage them and more females to get into science,” said parent Jaclyn Watson.

One of the main attractions of the event was a new inflatable planetarium.

“We were able to buy the planetarium and the built-in projection system and have some money to fund some students to work with us over the summer to create some customized programing, very much focusing on Canada’s role in space exploration,” O’Meara explained.

The idea behind the carnival was to immerse families in a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and programming.

“So, one of the things we try to offer is this broad spectrum of the sciences so that people can get exposed to it and say, ‘hey, maybe that's something I want to do with the rest of my life,’” Orbax said.

For some of the female students participating in the event, it was a way to empower other young women and girls.

“In my experience with physics, you know, there are times where you're treated differently,” said third year physics student, Michaela Hishon. “It's really nice to get to see all these young women, girls, just everyone really enjoying themselves here.”

“So, I'm in physics [and] that's a discipline that has really struggled to attract women to our field,” O’Meara said. “Really, the research shows that it's all about a sense of belonging. Women and girls do not seem to have that sense of belonging in physics compared to some of the other disciplines, like computer science and engineering. And so, getting the exposure and getting the hands-on activities, getting the interactions with women who are physicists or who are computer scientists I think goes a long way to try and help that sense of belonging.”

Moving forward, Royal City Science plans to host this kind of event annually to raise funds to eventually secure a permanent home for science in Guelph.

“Our final goal is not just to provide programming like this for our community, but to actually create and build a brick and mortar science centre here in the Guelph area that can serve our community for all of their STEM needs,” Orbax said.

The carnival wrapped up Sunday evening with a screening of the film Kiss the Ground followed by a panel discussion. The 2020 American documentary is narrated by Woody Harrelson and explores the role regenerative farming could have as a solution to climate crisis.

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