Beakerhead turns the city on to the fun side of science

Beakerhead is a smash hit with Calgarians – again.

From Sept. 10 to 14, the second annual Beakerhead transformed the city into a science spectacle, with over 50 interactive events held around Calgary.

From the 14-foot Laser Cat, to a ferris wheel-turned-dining room, the events drew 73,000 Calgarians to venues such as Olympic Way S.E., Fort Calgary, East Village, and 17th Avenue S.W.

And planning is already under way for the third edition, in 2015, with organizers planning even more events, possibly including a sports theme.

According to Mary Anne Moser, the president and co-founder of Beakerhead, it’s the unique visual and interactive aspects that get people interested in science and learning

“You can share all of the fascinating science facts in the world, but if no one is listening, it’s pointless.

“That’s why Beakerhead looks so spectacular. It gets people hooked,” said Moser.

Beakerhead is more than just visuals. It is a unique showcase of what is possible when science, engineering, and art come together.

It is Beakerhead’s goal to create a one-of-a-kind learning experience for all ages.

“It isn’t your high school science class,” said Moser.

Attendee, Ernest Barbaric, would agree.

“Beakerhead is a great idea, and I’m glad to live in a city that supports something like this,” said Barbaric.

“It showcases innovation and hopefully brings in a new generation of change-makers.”

Barbaric attended the Beakernight event Sept. 13, along with 20,000 other Calgarians.

“The event was fantastic. There was so much to see and participate in,” said Barbaric.

The event was described by Beakerhead as a “giant laboratory” and featured many interactive elements such as drive-in video game and, for the adults, a late-night TechBurlesque show put on by MakeFashion.

“The turnout was spectacular,” said Moser.

Jay Ingram, the chair and co-founder of Beakerhead, explained that Beakernight was one of the highlights of his personal experience this year.

“Everyone looked like they were having fun,” Ingram said.

“It is an indication that we are on the right track.”

Now that Beakerhead has wrapped up for the year, planning has commenced for year three, and it will only get better, according to Ingram.

Although some of the events from the past few years, such as Beakernight, will return, there will be some new events added to the agenda – there is even the possibility that a sports element will be introduced into the mix.

“All of the ideas are tentative, ” he explained.

“But we can promise that it will be hugely interactive.”

Dr. Christian Jacob, a scientist and professor at the U of C, wants to see Beakerhead “bigger and better next year.”

“Getting young minds excited about science and engineering is important,” he said.

“Beakerhead has found a really great way to do that.”

Jacob is the scientist behind the development of The Giant Walk-Through Brain, which premiered at Beakerhead this year.

The project was based around the idea of neurosurgeon Joseph Bogen in 1972, which was to create a 60-story human brain that one could walk through.

The building was never constructed due to the high cost.

With modern technology and the help of Jacob and his team of students, a virtual version of Bogen’s idea was created.

“I have wanted to do something like this for a long time,” said Ingram.

The virtual walk-through brain was accompanied by music written and performed by the Free Radicals, Ingram’s five-piece band, as well as Ingram’s storytelling.

“It came together beautifully,” said Moser.

The Giant Walk-Through Brain had two performances during Beakerhead. Both of the shows sold-out.

This was the international premier of the show, and both Ingram and Jacob hope to have it performed elsewhere in the near future.

They are currently in negotiation with the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) to have the show presented at their annual conference.

This would be a huge accomplishment for the project.

“It is one of the biggest conventions for scientists in the world,” said Jacob.

It isn’t your high school science class. – Mary Anne Moser

As for Beakerhead, it will continue to be a Calgary event with no plans to duplicate the idea elsewhere.

“At the moment we are just trying to run it here and get it right,” said Ingram.

“We want to be a part of Calgary’s culture as far as the eye can see.”

The third annual Beakerhead is scheduled to take place from Sept. 16-20, 2015.

Beakerhead relies heavily on support from the community to fund, plan, and execute its events.

To volunteer or donate, visit Beakerhead’s official website.

About Robyn Weatherly 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Robyn Weatherly is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2014-2015 academic year.

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