The Body
The BODY is a featured exhibit at Beakerhead this year. Chris Payne, Walk the Plank

Sept. 12, 2023

10 years of ‘weird’: Beakerhead and UCalgary celebrate research and innovation

Collaboration blends art, science and engineering to create an extraordinary learning experience

Beakerhead's explosive blend of research and innovation returns later this month as the annual festival celebrates its 10th anniversary, promoted as "10 Years of Weird."

Featuring brand-new installations, interactive experiences and “mind-bending” performances, the event is ready to welcome the community into a world where science and art collide.

Running from Sept. 14 to 17, Beakerhead is also a showcase for University of Calgary talent, with four faculties leading 10 programs at this year’s festival.

Beakerhead has roots at UCalgary. Incubated at the Schulich School of Engineering in 2013, it was co-founded by Dr. Mary Anne Moser, BSc’88, MA’92, PhD’05, who had a vision of globally advancing education at the crossroads of innovation and entertainment. Now based at TELUS Spark, the non-profit organization with Moser at its helm offers year-round educational programs providing entertaining learning opportunities.

The university continues to remain a strong collaborator of the festival. Its partnership with Beakerhead offers a valuable and thrilling opportunity to debut innovative research developed on our campus, bringing innovative ideas to life through technology, art and media.

“With the upcoming launch of our new Strategic Plan, Ahead of Tomorrow, fostering collaborations with our local community will continue to sit at the centre of everything we do at the university," says Amanda Affonso, BA’00, associate vice-president Alumni, Community & Partnerships with the Office of Advancement.

"UCalgary is proud to celebrate alongside Beakerhead in a partnership that celebrates innovation, inspires creativity and learning, and allows our faculties to bring their ideas to life.”

Here's a glimpse of some of what's in store for this year's festival.

Jump into action on Sept. 16 and experience the Thunder Clash Classic, where researchers from UCalgary’s Faculty of Graduate Studies and Mount Royal University will go head-to-head as they compete to deliver groundbreaking  research in a fun, dynamic and digestible fashion in less than five minutes. It’s the academic showdown you cannot miss!

On Sept. 17, experience the extraordinary world of medicine and cinema with the Cumming School of Medicine at Science in the Cinema. Plunge into the critically acclaimed documentary, The Crash Reel, and stay for a revealing Q-and-A with UCalgary health researchers from the Faculty of Kinesiology who will debunk (or affirm) screen medical myths.

Additional university programming includes a massive installation showcasing the historical discovery of a deep-sea octopus nursery by Dr. Rachel Lauer, PhD, from the Faculty of Science; a takeover by the Schulich School of Engineering’s 3D printers and Formula 1 car; and a family-friendly interactive activity where you can breathe life and colour into still images of cells.

It doesn’t stop there!

The Arnie Charbonneau Cancer institute is offering engaging workshops to showcase its dedication to advancing cancer research. You can also watch as BCI 4Kids  introduces a high-tech headset that lets users control toys and power wheelchairs using the power of their mind. Finally, the Faculty of Science presents an interactive art piece by Kathryn Blair, MFA’18, that fosters a reimagined relationship between humans and the digital realm.

These and more UCalgary-hosted events await on the weekend.

Image taken of BODY, a heart structure and fire

The BODY is an immersive journey of the human form featured at this year's Beakerhead.

Chris Payne, Walk the Plank

Beakerhead’s featured exhibit this year is the North American premiere of the BODY, an immersive journey of the human form that guides you through six zones combining sculpture, lighting, special effects and sounds that depict our different biological systems.

"We love working with organizations like UCalgary who are pushing the envelope in academia and research,” says Beakerhead executive director Parker Chapple about the festival’s partnership with the university.

“I am so excited about this year's collaboration. It truly is the perfect example of what Beakerhead is all about — turning complex, scientific concepts into creative experiences for everyone to participate in and feel connected to.”

Beakerhead is a free event. Check out the Beakerhead Festival website and celebrate a decade of wonder and celebration for science.

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