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Beakerhead back for another year featuring dozens of UCalgary brainiacs

Guide to events on and off campus, and at Rothney Observatory
September 12, 2016
The Sandbox for Human Ingenuity, supported by the Schulich School of Engineering, is on display Sept. 14-18 as part of Beakerhead. Photo by Denise Kitagawa

The Sandbox for Human Ingenuity, supported by the Schulich School of Engineering, is on display Sept. 14-18 as part of Beakerhead. Photo by Denise Kitagawa

Check out the giant sandbox at at 750 9th Ave. S.E. Photo courtesy Beakerhead

Check out the giant sandbox at at 750 9th Ave. S.E. Photo courtesy Beakerhead

From probing what could be the world’s largest sandbox to uncovering the dark side of lover’s revenge to dissecting the perfect chocolate chip cookie, the creativity and ingenuity of UCalgary students, faculty, staff and alumni will be present throughout Beakerhead activities this year.  The mashup of arts, science and engineering has become a Calgary cultural phenomenon, drawing thousands of people to free and ticketed events throughout the city over the course of five days.

The University of Calgary and the Schulich School of Engineering are sponsoring Beakerhead 2016, and have been involved in this renowned festival since its inception in 2012. The idea of a large scale festival to celebrate science, engineering and arts was incubated at the university. Beakerhead co-founder Mary Ann Moser, formerly a communications specialist at Schulich, remembers trying to describe the vision as “think of Burning Man meets Maker Faire meet the World Science Festival meets Luminato (an annual 10-day celebration of the arts in Toronto).”

“It’s finding space for art and engineering where everyone feels welcome,” says Moser. “We use the word affinity — we’re not trying to turn people into scientists and engineers, we are trying to increase the affinity.” And, of course, have fun.

Members of the UCalgary family can also be found volunteering behind the scenes at the various events. The Graduate Students’ Association and the University of Calgary Scholars College will be a volunteer team at this year's 2016 Catharsis Catapult Competition, on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Beakerhead runs Sept. 14-18, 2016, where you can find events suited for all ages. Watch for UCalgary connections from day one. Also, a tip for you, Beakerhead is known for surprises. Keep an eye on social media hashtags #beakerhead #ucalgary50 for any popup events with UCalgary connections.


Campus Collisions
Sept. 14-15
Libraries and Cultural Resources will host a number of Campus Collisions over the course of Beakerhead. The talks, demonstrations and displays are free to the public and based in the Taylor Family Digital Library. See the detailed listing on the library website for more information on each of the following events:

Wednesday, Sept. 14

  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Moving Data, Angela Rout
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: In Motion, Oksana Kryzhanivska with Jeffrey Boyd
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: The Big House, Brandon Hearty
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Subject to Change, Joshua Taron with Jason Johnson
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Slicing the Aurora, Sebastion Lay et al
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: AlexG Infinity, Nathaniel Tan
  • 10:30 a.m.-12pm: Differentiated Topographies, Vera Parlac, Stephen Holman & Cody Kupper
  • 11 a.m.-12 p.m.: Blinded by Book Science, Maria Zytaruk
  • 11 a.m.-12 p.m.: Augmented Reality with HoloCell, Christian Jacob
  • 12 p.m.-1 p.m.: Omnimedia and the Technologies of the Self, Patrick Finn & Owen Brierley
  • 1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Making Time, Rob Furr
  • 1 p.m.-4 p.m.: The Cymascope, Angela Broad

Thursday, Sept. 15

  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: The Big House, Brandon Hearty
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Moving Data, Angela Rout
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: In Motion, Oksana Kryzhanivska with Jeffrey Boyd
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Subject to Change, Joshua Taron with Jason Johnson
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Slicing the Aurora, Sebastion Lay <et al.>
  • 12 p.m.-1 p.m.: Talented Tech, Engineering Education Students’ Society (E2S2)
  • 1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Visualizing Imperceivable Sound, Brian Garbet
  • 1 p.m.-4 p.m.: The Cymascope, Angela Broad
  • 2 p.m.-3 p.m.: A Tale of Collaboration Between an Artist and a Scientist, Lindsay MacDonald and Jo Vermeulen
  • 3 p.m.-4 p.m.: They Should Ask Us, Angela Rout


Thursday, Sept. 15
Jack Simpson Gymnasium
12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
The Schulich School of Engineering presents a demonstration of the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) by the Canadian Space Agency for Beakerhead. The 3D mapping technology is also aboard NASA's latest mission, which intends to return a sample of asteroid back to earth. 


Sept. 17, 8-11 p.m.
Rothney Astronomical Observatory, Priddis
A full moon rising exemplifies the theme of La Bella Luna tempismo perfecto. Astronomer Roland Dechesne will talk about the moon and humanity's plans for our celestial neighbour. The University of Calgary Chamber Choir will sing under the stars. Telescopes will be operating with several astronomers on hand for questions. Please arrive by 7:50 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person or $20 per car. All proceeds go towards the Rothney Astronomical Observatory programs.


Sept. 14-18
Fort Calgary, 750 9th Ave. S.E.
The world's most unbounded sandbox is back. Robots and humans of all ages are invited to go on an archaeological dig, bring a picnic or just roll up your sleeves and get sandy. This ingenious programming is supported by the Schulich School of Engineering.

Sept. 14-18
Eau Claire Market
Here's a location that lights up as you explore. A giant eight-foot Lite Brite-inspired toy illuminates your best pixel art, while a quadrant maze tests your sense of direction. Sarah Hewitt, PhD graduate in neuroscience at UCalgary, is one of the site leads. Please stop by and say hi.

Sept. 14-18
All about town
Dining is a whole new experimental experience when chefs and bartenders become scientists. University of Calgary researcher from the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, Paul Gordon, recruited 24 restaurants to ensure that Beakerhead goers have something to eat and drink that's as creative as the art they are taking in. 

Sept. 14-16, 4-6 p.m.
Stephen Avenue between 1 Street S.E. and 3 Street S.W.
The Biological Sciences Graduate Student's Association presents Petri Dish Picasso and Let's Talk Science from the Faculty of Science will be present on Stephen Avenue to engage with the public in a variety of science, engineering and art activities.

Sept. 14, 6-10 p.m.
Pips Board Game Café, 2015 33 Avenue S.W.
Want to bring your board game skills to an extreme level? Challenge members of UCalgary’s Scholars Program. How about Pandemic with a microbiologist, or Operation with a real-life doctor. Or how about Clue with a forensic scientist? See if a commodities trader can help you up your game of Catan.
$7 per person per game

Sept. 15 and 18
Crave Cookies and Cupcakes, 1107 Kensington Road N.W.
Tickets $77
Leave no cocoa swirl unturned in your quest for the best cookie. You will run tests and variables to explore each element in the cookie making process under the expert guidance of University of Calgary chemists, Natasha Garner and Travis Tokarek, and Crave Cookies and Cupcakes bakers (UCalgary alum). Here's to developing the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Sept. 15, 8-9:30 p.m.
Royal Canadian Legion No. 1 Branch, 116 7 Avenue S.E.
Tickets $20
Relationships are full of slings and arrows that can sometimes spark a deep desire to "pay back" perceived offences. In a word, it's about power. Dr. Susan Boon from UCalgary and Dr. Stephen Yoshimura from the University of Montana explore revenge in this animated and scientific evening. 18+

Sept. 15, 6-9 p.m.
The Silk Road Spice Merchant, 1403 9 Avenue S.E.
Tickets $50
Did you know ground pepper was once worth its weight in gold? Explore riveting tales about the surprising science and history of spices and herbs. Lauren Drogos, a UCalgary postdoc, and Adrienne Lee, UCalgary alum and chemist, will be on hand to weave the science of sensation into the spice perception. Unusual pairings of fragrance and taste are sure to delight your senses and your palate as you create your own steak rub to take home. 

Sept. 16, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Performance Hall at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, 850 4 Street S.E.
Tickets $40
Some say science holds the greatest adventure stories on earth, in the hands of the right storytellers. This evening of sparkling storytelling will take you to the frontlines of science — seven stories with music to match — all brought to life by researchers, broadcasters and brilliant minds. Kory Czuy, a PhD candidate at UCalgary, wonders why math is such a dreaded and acceptably unattainable subject when it is created, taught and practised by human beings with senses, feelings and culture. Listen to her work on sensual mathematics and the way math could be a more positive experience, especially within Aboriginal communities. 

Sept. 16, 6-8 p.m.
Kent of Inglewood, 1319 9 Avenue S.E.
Tickets $40
Take a fragrant journey into the captivating world of perfumes and scent science. Learn how your olfactory system work with your brain to recognize smells. Sarah Hewitt, PhD graduate in neuroscience at UCalgary and UCalgary alum Josephine Tsang, named as one Chatelaine Magazine’s 80 Amazing Canadian Women in Watch will help you understand scent at the molecular level.

Sept. 17, two shows 2 and 7 p.m.
Theatre Junction Grand, 608 1 Street S.E.
Tickets $35
Join Jay Ingram and his band, the Cosmonauts, on a visual and musical journey through an era when the idea of space exploration was only a dream. Those dreams created the space age and have indeed come true. Meet a real astronaut, and current chancellor of the University of Calgary, Dr. Robert Thirsk, at the 7 p.m. show.

Sept. 17, 7-11 p.m. 
Bridgeland, McDougall Road NE
Prepare for a night full of quirky surprises in a massive outdoor gallery of art and engineering. Beakernight will illuminate the streets of Bridgeland with interactive works and performances, live music (including UCalgary Cumming School of Medicine alum, Dr. Raj Bhardwaj and Dr. Darren Markland), the Beakerbar, just to name a few. 

Sept. 18
You may have heard whispers of a gem of a museum tucked underground in the foothills outside of Cochrane. This amazing collection of early technology has been the ‘love’ labour of UCalgary alum Ian MacGregor. If you want to be among the few in the world to visit this museum, take in this treat.

Sept. 18, 1-3 p.m.
Phil and Sebastian's Lab, Simmons Building, East Village 
Tickets $60
How do you make a cup of excellent coffee? The Phil and Sebastian's team will distill this process and explore the science behind brewing coffee. Various techniques and instruments will be put to use to understand the engineering behind the coffee bean. Both Phil and Sebastian are Schulich School of Engineering grads. 

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