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Exposing Montrealers to science

by Ian Down November 15, 2016
Exposing Montrealers to science

Concordia students present projects at Exposcience in Pointe-Claire

People of all ages packed Pointe-Claire’s Stewart Hall for the 33rd annual Exposcience fair, where Concordia students enlightened and entertained visitors with a variety of interactive exhibits.

On Nov.12 and 13, guests flocked to the fair to try virtual reality headsets, watch a 3D printer in action and play with a tesla coil.

Medical biology student Muhammad Zayed demonstrating his work. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Medical biology student Muhammad Zayed demonstrating his work. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Held every year since 1983, the event is presented by volunteers from Concordia’s faculties of Arts and Science as well as Engineering and Computer Science, who are given a great degree of creative freedom over their presentations. An ice cream-making station was serving visitors in the Marie Curie chemistry room. At the psychology table, visitors could track and learn about the motion of their eyes by playing a game of “Where’s Waldo?”

The event showed the different ways children and adults relate to science. According to many presenters, adults were more interested in the practical side of science.

In the Charles Darwin biology room, children scrambled to reassemble medical biology student Muhammad Zayed’s model of the human anatomy. “Kids usually ask about what the kidney does in our body,” he said. “Parents usually ask about surgery and how they do surgery for the kidneys.”

In Concordia microbiology researcher Yun Zheng’s exhibit on vegetables, there was a section for children and a section for adults. Children learned about where different vegetables come from, while the adults explored their nutritional content.

At the heart rate monitoring station, children asked about the many moving lines representing their heartbeat on screen, whereas their parents were interested to learn what these graphs meant for their health.

It was a learning experience for both children and adults. “I didn’t know there were different colors of blood—I thought there was only red,” said Sangeeta Patel, a visitor, referring to an exhibit on animal blood in the Darwin room.

Presenters made it easier for children to relate to and understand science. “You can relate [static electricity] to rubbing a balloon on their hair or when they take off their hat in the middle of the winter and there’s static electricity,” said physics student Amanda Dinitto.

While participating in such exhibitions can look good on a student’s CV, most of this year’s presenters were simply eager to take part and educate visitors. “It’s actually pretty cool just to show kids how science works,” said chemistry student Rejean Sivakumar, whose exhibit discussed fingerprints. “They’re at a young age, so they find it really interesting. It might even help their career choices eventually.”

“You feel happy when you are with kids and you deliver some new information,” said Zayed. “When you see their smile and you hear their questions, you feel happy and satisfied.”

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