Beakerhead Showcases Creativity of Calgary Tech, Science and Engineering

This weekend, thousands of Calgarians took in North America’s most audacious and exuberant STEAM festival, where arts, science and engineering collide to expand our understanding of the world around us. It’s Beakerhead’s 10th anniversary and this year’s event once again inspired a sense of wonder and exploration by showcasing that ingenuity lies at the intersection of creativity and innovation.

It’s no accident that Beakerhead emerged out of Calgary a decade ago. With one of North America’s most vibrant arts cultures, the rapidly expanding Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary and a long history of technological innovation in the natural resources and geospatial sectors, the city offered a perfect matrix in which to nurture a hybrid approach to  science education and practice.

The festival highlights something important about innovation: it is both an art and a science. We are so easily segmented into opposing groups in this culture – you’re either a techie or an artsy and rarely the twain shall meet. The wildly imaginative offerings at this year’s Beakerhead put the lie to such thinking. 

As Parker Chapple, Executive Director of Beakerhead, explains: “Beakerhead was founded in 2013 with the belief that making science and engineering more accessible through art and entertainment would lead to unprecedented human ingenuity. Look around – I think we’re on the right path!”

This year, festival goers experienced this ingenuity up close at @contemporarycalgary, thanks to the imaginative collaboration between UCalgary’s Dr. Rachel Lauer and Mapperz, the city’s projection mapping club. The lumocartographers tapped six local projection artists to take footage from the June 2023 Octopus Odyssey expedition, of which Lauer, a submarine hydrogeologist, was part, and to create an underwater immersion experience of rare and beautiful octopus nurseries in the deep ocean off Costa Rica. Invitees at Thursday’s sneak peek, including a number of kids, were obviously enraptured by the experience and learned a little about deep-sea hydrology while they were at it. 

“Mapping the Octo-Odyssey is a perfect example of the kind of fascinating content that Beakerhead brings to light through partnerships,” says Zack Anderson, Director of Science Connections and the TELUS Spark Science Centre.

For Roderick Tate, President and CEO, TELUS Spark Science Centre, Beakerhead is “the key to unlocking doors into STEAM fields, especially for those who think that those fields aren’t for them. It can increase all people’s affinity with science, supercharge their curiosity, and maybe even change the course of their lives. When science intersects with creativity, in an accessible and inclusive way, that’s when incredible and mind-blowing things can happen.”

Beakerhead exists today in large part because of the leadership of Calgarians in the city’s tech and engineering sector. You owe it to yourself to see what innovation looks like when it is elevated and transformed by artists.

The Agency is proud to be a marketing and PR partner for Beakerhead 2023.

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All photos by Neil McElmon, ConcertSocks.

This article originally appeared on on September 18, 2023.