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The wheels on the bus:  Harley & Roxana take kids for a “magical” spin at Science Rendezvous

April 2, 2019 — 

When it comes to that nationwide celebration of science, technology, engineering, art and math known as Science Rendezvous, it’s always been a family affair. This year’s version, held on Saturday, May 11th, 2019 from 11am to 4pm, is themed “STEAM Big”. Focusing on the aforementioned STEAM subjects, the event provides young families with the opportunity to check out a wide variety of activities designed to pique their curiosity and ultimately steer them toward eventually studying those subjects at a secondary level and beyond.

It’s a happy coincidence then, that two of Science Rendezvous’ most visible volunteers are family themselves. Daughter Harley Bray (a fourth year UM Chemistry student) and mom Roxana (a high school food science teacher and UM alumnus) have teamed up for the last four years to present their version of the popular children’s television series, “The Magic School Bus”.

Dressed as Ms Frizzle (Roxana) and Liz the Lizard (Harley), its’ the Brays way of making science come alive for attendees, allowing them to investigate such things as the chemical phenomena of lava lamps and the properties of kinetic motion and other forms of energy.

Her initial involvement with Science Rendezvous was completely coincidental. Harley marvels at how one chance interaction with STEAM coordinator Seema Goel turned into a years-long involvement with the event.

“After sitting and chatting with [Seema] for a little while, she looked up and said, ‘Can you help me with something for a quick sec?’  That ‘something’ was organizing Science Rendezvous and ‘a quick sec’ turned into 4 years.  I guess you can say that I was in the right place at the right time.”

Harley Bray says a chance interaction with a STEAM coordinator led to a years-long involvement with Science Rendezvous.

Harley Bray says a chance interaction with a STEAM coordinator led to a years-long involvement with Science Rendezvous.

Both mother and daughter cite their passions for working with others and for science as motivation for volunteering. As a teacher, Roxana asserts that her involvement in the event has not only taught her about the importance of communication in science, but has also cultivated her interest and understanding of the role that it plays in our everyday lives.

“Participating in Science Rendezvous has helped me to recognize people’s strengths, challenges and interests, and empower individuals to utilize these tools when developing their passion in the different areas, whether they be in science, art, or something else.”

Roxana Bray, (a high school food science teacher and UM alumnus), aka “Ms. Frizzle” has volunteered for Science Rendezvous for the past 4 years.

Harley agrees: 

“Helping to promote enthusiasm in learning through this national project has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my academic career at the University of Manitoba. We work to engage and transform the general public from passive supporters of science and engineering to active, passionate champions with an understanding of the important role that science plays in our rapidly changing world.”

Having been a part of Science Rendezvous’ leadership team for the past 4 years, Harley believes that her graduation this spring provides her with the perfect opportunity to step down from her primary role and give others a chance to contribute.

“Although I won’t be as intimately involved as I have been in Science Rendezvous [going forward], it has sparked the passion and curiosity within me that we need in tomorrow’s scientists.”

In the meantime, there is still this year’s event to perfect, finalize and bring to fruition. The Brays promise that this year’s new theme and activity will be just as fun for young scientists to experience as previous years.

“We strive to fulfill Ms Frizzle’s motto when it comes to learning: ‘Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!’”


Science Rendezvous is a free annual science festival, a signature marquee partner event of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)Science Odyssey WeekMay 4 – 19. A celebration of Discovery & Innovation. Science Rendezvous Winnipeg, at the University of Manitoba it is made possible by the efforts of over 600+ student volunteers. It includes indoor and outdoor hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities.

For more information, please contact:

If you are interested in any aspect of the event, including volunteering or partnership opportunities, please contact: Event Organizer, Kyla Smith, kyla [dot] smith [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.

Media Contact, Jennifer MacRae, jennifer [dot] macrae [at] umanitoba [dot] ca

Photo gallery from Science Rendezvous 2018. Images courtesy of Kira Koop

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