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Volunteers are gearing up for Science Rendezvous, Saturday, May 11, 2019 at the U of M Fort Garry Campus

A “delightful link”: Science Rendezvous’ new coordinator Kyla Smith tells why Science Rendezvous is “not to be missed”

Don't miss this year's Science Rendezvous, a free family festival on Saturday May 11, 2019

April 1, 2019 — 

Kyla Smith [MSc/19] is not one for self-promotion. When asked to describe herself for a profile of her role as coordinator of this year’s Science Rendezvous, Smith tends to stick to the facts, with little embellishment.

Kyla Smith, Science Rendezvous, Event Organizer. Photo credit: Kira Koop.

She’ll tell you she worked overseas in the United Arab Emirates and China as a high school physics teacher before returning to Canada to study at the UofM. In 2018, she came second in the 3-Minute Thesis competition, discussing her work in helping to build a better MRI, then went on to defend her Master’s thesis this past January. She sits on the board of the Canadian Association of Physicists Foundation, and as if all that weren’t enough, Smith has just been accepted to the University of Oxford for a PhD to study physics education. She also won the Dean of Graduate Studies’ Student Achievement Award in November 2018. The award recognizes outstanding performance as a graduate student for academic excellence, leadership, teaching ability, volunteerism and mentorship.

In the midst of her academic commitments, Smith has spent the past two years as the coordinator of the Discover Days portion of Science Rendezvous, organizing the arrival of thousands of Grade 3 to 5 students from across the province to attend the event at the UofM campus.  This year sees her temporarily taking the helm as overall Science Rendezvous coordinator for Seema Goel, the Faculty of Science’s STEAM Coordinator.

Smith may shy away from talking about herself in depth, but words don’t fail her when it comes to Science Rendezvous. She’s happy to expound on why families should attend what she refers to as a “not to be missed” happening.

“If someone hasn’t attended the event before, they might think it’s all about science, or akin to a school science fair. It’s nothing like a science fair, and it’s actually about so much more than science: it’s about discovery and innovation and creativity and wonder – all of which are relatable human endeavors that kids understand immediately.

“Of course, researchers know that these are also the components of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEAM subjects) but it’s the way everything comes alive at Science Rendezvous that makes it so special. Everything from interacting with robots to holding live insects to walking on the surface of a liquid that becomes solid with the pressure of your steps. Creativity and discovery are where the arts and sciences meet, and the integration of arts to offer a window into science and engineering is an unexpected and delightful aspect of this event.”

Of the over fifty or so activities on offer, Smith claims to have a few favourites:

“The musical staircase is always a highlight for me – I immediately become a kid again, jumping from one stair to another, finding the right notes to create a song. Another huge highlight that is back again this year is the Chemistry Potions Class. Hogwarts-themed and packed with truly amazing chemistry experiments, this live show leaves audiences absolutely awed!”


Science Rendezvous 2018. Photo credit: Kira Koop.

Science Rendezvous. Musical Staircase. Photo credit Kira Koop.

Smith believes that everyone should attend Science Rendezvous for the fun and “sense of wonder”. This year’s theme is “STEAM Big” With a multitude of hands-on activities, and so much to see and do, she feels that it’s the family event of the year. Best of all, it’s free!

“For me, Science Rendezvous is this delightful link between research and education, bringing access to science and engineering to the public in new ways.”

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 Week, May 4 – 19. A celebration of Discovery & Innovation. Science Rendezvous, 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

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