As a delegate of Science Expo’s 2013 conference and one of their ambassadors since then, I had high hopes for this year’s conference, and they exceeded my expectations. Science Expo’s fifth annual conference was definitely something to not be missed. It was one of my best experiences of the year.
If there’s one thing Science Expo does right, it’s taking a bunch of STEM nerds and making us like talking to each other. Their icebreaker was a design challenge in itself, which woke our brains up on a Saturday morning and made us come up with creative things to do with clips and toothpaste. Frankly, the best part was listening to the presenters present their models, all of which were expertly marketed. My favorite line would have to be the ‘Colgate Mobile’, a mobile toothpaste transporter created by group-two.
Another notable part of the conference was the workshops. This year’s conference showcased a variety of brief, thirty-minute workshops where we delegates could learn new things, fiddle with software, or network with each other. As an attendee of the Maplesoft and DNA-Extraction workshops, I approve of this new system over last year’s, and I think it’s an interesting improvement. My only regret is that I didn’t get to attend them all!
We were then invited to eat lunch, and you can always expect Science Expo to provide great conference food. Among a selection of sandwiches, fries, cake, and a second course of pizza, there’s more than enough to praise. I was at the CYSJ table handing out journal copies, and it was refreshing to see how many delegates took an interest in the journal. Of course, the other opportunity tables were just as crowded, and most were the programs I remember from last year. I had attended a few of them, so that was definitely nostalgic.
A second design challenge followed lunchtime, and this one was a creative challenge where we had to design animal-observation devices to watch them in their natural habitats. This one was a little strange but we grew to like it and it was pretty fun to hastily wrap together a cage to shield a camera from a skunk. Once again, the highlight was watching people present their devices (including live-action simulation with one disguised as an animal!).
We had our second keynote speaker at this point, who inspired us with his STEM involvement story. Then it was time to snack once again, which also provided a lot of valuable networking time. And I think the networking is a valuable part of the conference, because the people I met from last years were some of the coolest students ever, and a few of them even went on to participate in competitions with me. Science Expo 2014 was just as amazing as I’d expected; I got to the centre tired and half-asleep and left feeling refreshed and inspired, so it was definitely a conference experience to be remembered.
(And can I say ‘Timbit Tower’? That thing was majestic!)