ESQ provides STEM outreach at the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Boy with beaker at Pan Am Games

On July 19th, flying rockets, liquid crystals and elephant toothpaste were some of the activities on display at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games’ Ontario Celebration Zone.

Located at the Harbourfront Centre, Waterloo’s Engineering Science Quest (ESQ) provided science and engineering outreach to 7,500 children and their families.

It was definitely a great learning experience for all the children and a very rewarding for the volunteers,” says Chirayu Patel, an ESQ volunteer and Waterloo biochemistry student.

Girl with sand

ESQ, a shared outreach program offered by the Faculties of Science and Engineering, was the only initiative of its kind to be part of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and hosted by Ontario Tourism.

The Pan American Games are the world’s third largest international multi-sport Games. Both the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are held every four years for athletes from 41 countries of the Americas. Toronto is hosting both the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games this summer.

Like sport, science is international and brings people together. Seeing children from various countries, speaking different languages, all sharing a passion for discovery was a proud moment for Waterloo.

The day-long event included eight fun, hands-on activities and demonstrations about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Some of the activities involved designing crash cars, creating water filters, creating elephant toothpaste and playing with hydrophobic sand. Children collected stickers from each station to complete their ‘quest’.

Each activity taught the children about a different area of science,” says Patel. “For example they learned about forces and pulleys when making buttons whereas the hydrophobic sand activity taught them about chemistry.”

The opportunity to exhibit a strong piece of our influential outreach programming in Ontario’s Celebration Zone allowed the University of Waterloo to not only build community in an innovative, high-touch space and reach new audiences, but more importantly, impact and empower the young minds of our future.

I left in high spirits after seeing the University of Waterloo and ESQ turn Ontario’s Celebration Zone into a space of interactive fun and the big smiles on the children’s faces,” says Patel.

ESQ celebrates its’ 25th anniversary this year and is a leader in science and engineering camps across Canada. Their approach is simple: put science and technology in the hands of young people, igniting their natural curiosity to explore the science behind their world and cultivate a commitment to lifelong learning and discovery.

ESQ at Ontario Celebration Zone