Science Rendezvous: People and science meet at York

More than 400 people travelled to York’s Keele campus on Saturday, May 10 to participate in the inaugural Science Rendezvous. York University was a key participant in the event, which saw leading science and technology institutes in the Greater Toronto Area opening their science facilities to the public, offering free tours, events, demonstrations and lectures.

"With over 400 attendees at the Keele campus, both guests and our faculty, students and staff enjoyed a full day of engaging and entertaining activities," said Elissa Strome, research officer for York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and one of the members of the York team responsible for the event.

Drawing on the University’s expertise in rocket and space science, York’s Science Rendezvous featured a space theme. Key to York’s event was the participation of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Alain Berinstain (right), director of planetary exploration for the CSA, came to York to deliver the keynote lecture. Berinstain started the festivities by outlining the CSA and York’s participation in the current Phoenix Mission to Mars, which is scheduled to land May 25.

Berinstain’s presentation was followed by the official launch of the book Canada’s Fifty Years in Space: The COSPAR Anniversary, written by Gordon Shepherd, director of the Centre for Research in Earth & Space Science and professor emeritus of space science, and Agnes Kruchio, cofounder of MediaTropes and the author of Polar Science: The Legacy of Canada’s Participation in the International Polar and Geophysical Years. Both authors were in attendance, offering readers the opportunity to meet and talk with them and purchase signed versions of the new book.

Above: Agnes Kruchio (left) and York Professor Emeritus Gordon Shepherd autograph copies of their book Canada’s Fifty Years in Space: The COSPAR Anniversary during Science Rendezvous on May 10

The afternoon brought a series of Space INVENTours of York’s cutting-edge space science and engineering laboratories located in the Petrie Science & Engineering Building. Participants, young and old, were able to see first hand some prototypes of new innovations in space science and engineering. The Space INVENTours offered both parents and children the opportunity to satisfy their curiosities with a wide range of activities including the build-your-own rocket in the arts and crafts centre, and watching the York University Rover Team put their proposed Mars rover through its paces.

Right: The York University Rover

The action continued into the evening with Café Scientifique, which took place in the Grad Lounge on York’s Keele campus. The informal event gave guests the opportunity to debate with expert speakers on the topic "The Race to Mars… Should We Go?" The Grad Lounge was filled to capacity with food, drink and discussion flowing continuously well into the evening.

York’s Science Rendezvous wrapped up with a screening of the PBS award-winning documentary Seeing In the Dark by Timothy Ferris at the Price Family Cinema and a tour of the night sky given by the York University Astronomy Club at the Observatory. The documentary offered viewers an exploration of the universe in high-definition.

Left: Members of the York University Astronomy Club lead a tour of the night sky using telescopes

"York’s inaugural Science Rendezvous was made possible by the support of an extensive cast including faculty, students and staff from the Faculties of Science & Engineering and Health, the Office of University Events & Community Relations, the Canadian Space Agency and all of our volunteers," said Strome. "We look forward to seeing new faces at next year’s Science Rendezvous as we grow together and continue our mission of bringing science to the people."

For more on Science Rendezvous at York, see the April 10 issue of YFile. To learn more about events in the GTA, visit the Science Rendezvous Web site.