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What is a Science Rendezvous?

 After coming across something about the Canada-wide Science Rendezvous, I found this on SFU's Chemquest web site celebrating The International Year of Chemistry, "join us for a free fun-filled Science Carnival featuring hands-on chemistry puzzles and games, prizes, draws and giveaways, live demonstrations, and explosive stage shows." Saturday morning (May 14), I read it to my six-year-old and she was sold.

It took us over an hour and a half to get there by transit and a little while to figure out where it was taking place since I don't know the campus at all, but they certainly had a lot going on. The next day, I asked my daughter Risa which things she liked doing best. These were her top three things.

1. Elemental scavenger hunt

Risa actually wrote me a list of her top three and spelled this, "Scabbingr hunt." When we signed in, which had to be at the opposite end from where we had entered, they handed us a periodic table of the elements, with some elements missing. These were posted at some of the stations and if you spotted one, you had to ask the person on duty for the stamp. They also had a person walking around with Curium on his shirt. We had to collect eleven stamps, which was not a trivial undertaking, and then it only made us eligible for tickets in a raffle. The big prize included an ipod touch and my daughter was thus keenly motivated to carry through. Unfortunately, however, we had to leave before the draw so we wouldn't be late for supper.

2. Corn starch and water

They had nice big tubs of this perennial favourite that Risa, who described it as  the "mucky, gooey stuff," loved getting her hands into it. When she was younger I made some in the backyard where she created Jackson Pollack like images with it dripping off her fingers. They said it was about two to one corn starch to water but you need to mix it see when it switches between a solid and a liquid, as the long starch molecules get tangled and release. Find out more about what Science World folks call Oobleck (à la Dr. Seuss).

3. Light and diffraction gratings and polarized lenses

This is what Risa said was "Looking at the light movie with the glasses we got to keep." She loves 3D movies and pictures and developing a bit of collection of the glasses that go with them. Most recently, she kept the 3D fashion ad in some free magazine we received which came with blue and red glasses to look at a man posing with semi-clad women. Ahem. Anyway, at this station, they were actually handing out diffraction grating glasses, which made the lights look like rainbows. We went into a room to look at fluorescent lights. And at another station they had polarized lenses and a video of other things that had something to do with polarized light, showing the different colours you get when these materials twist and filter light in various ways.

Three things that intrigued me most were the radioactive material in smoke detectors, erasable gel pens that disappeared with a hair dryer and then reappeared when cooled with dry ice, and honeybee pheromones for communications. I have to look into these further.

Did any of you go to Chemquest? What did you think?