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Very rubin observatory, Credit: Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

Thousands explore science, innovation, and education at Perimeter events

The BrainSTEM: Your Future is Now Festival welcomed scientific explorers of all ages to Perimeter Institute through the first week of October.

The festival showcased the tremendous opportunities available to youth through the collision of imagination, scientific discovery, and the entrepreneurial spirit.

Brainstem teens2 tour


More than 2,500 high school students from across Ontario arrived by the busload to explore the BrainSTEM exhibit area, where they chatted with a lifelike robot, tested a mind-control interface with electronics, tried on an invisibility cloak, and got hands-on with many other science and technology demonstrations.

Attendance at festival events over the week reached almost 25,000, with many more tuning in to watch lectures online and join the BrainSTEM conversation on Perimeter’s social media channels.

Raymond Laflamme speaks and gives an online lecture at BrainStem festival

The diverse events and exhibits during the festival were unified by the theme that a passion for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), combined with entrepreneurial drive, will equip today’s youth to build a brighter, more prosperous future for themselves and society.

The festival featured a series of sold-out public lectures that highlighted the themes of discovery, innovation, and imagination. James Grime demonstrated an original World War II Enigma Machine, and explained how the English genius Alan Turing cracked its seemingly unbreakable code (watch online). Raymond Laflamme, a founding Perimeter researcher and Executive Director of the Institute for Quantum Computing, shared how scientists are harnessing the forces of quantum mechanics to build powerful new technologies of unprecedented power (watch). Journalist and author Lucy Hawking, daughter of Perimeter Distinguished Visiting Research Chair Stephen Hawking, urged young people to use their imaginations to build a better future for humankind.

Lucy Hawking speaking at Brainstem festival
Lucy Hawking

Comedian Brian Malow performed four sold-out shows at Waterloo's Starlight Social Club, getting big laughs for his unique brand of science-themed humour as part of the festival’s “Science in the Club” events.

Happening simultaneously with BrainSTEM was the Equinox Summit: Learning 2030, an international gathering of education innovators aimed at envisioning a high school of the future. Delegates from six continents discussed the shifting needs and opportunities for high school education, with the goal of crafting the Equinox Blueprint – a series of recommendations for secondary education reform.

Teens at BrainStem festival

Throughout the week, presenting media partner TVO broadcast five episodes of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, featuring panel discussions with participants of the Equinox Summit, as well as webcast the BrainSTEM live public lectures.

Perimeter opened its doors to the public on October 5 and 6, welcoming thousands of people to tour its award-winning facility and try the hands-on exhibits in the Physica Phantastica exhibit area.

“The goal of BrainSTEM was to share the amazing things that can happen when curiosity and exploration meet imagination and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Greg Dick, Perimeter’s Director of Educational Outreach.

“Judging by the enthusiastic participation of students and families, the future seems very bright for science, education, and innovation.”

Perimeter thanks everyone whose attendance and online participation in the BrainSTEM Festival and the Equinox Summit: Learning 2030 – including the more than 220 tireless volunteers – made these events so successful.

Teens at BrainStem festival


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Further exploration

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

For more information, contact:
Mike Brown
Manager, Communications & Media
519-569-7600 x5131