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TRIUMF Is Raising Interest at the Old Barn

08 September 2008

“This is so cool!” “That’s incredible!” “Look, Mom, I made Argon-40!” These and many similar expressions of enthusiasm could be heard throughout the afternoon of Saturday, September 6, 2008, at TRIUMF’s booth during the University Neighbourhoods Association’s “Barn Raising” block party. Volunteers from TRIUMF encouraged an interest in science and explained the nature of TRIUMF’s work to families from the local community.

The Barn Raising at the UBC Old Barn Community Centre was the second time the annual event had been held and the first in which TRIUMF participated. In 2007, over 1,500 people attended the entire event, and this year hundreds of people stopped by the TRIUMF booth. They also visited our neighbours, the National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation, who had set up a booth with TRIUMF on the second floor of the Old Barn Community Centre.

Several different activities excited the children’s curiosity. For the popular Spin-The-Cyclotron trivia game, operated by Shirley Reeve, children answered science-related questions to earn prizes like magnifying glasses and slinkies, perfect for enacting solenoid and standing-wave experiments. With the help of Kaitlan Huckabone, children at the Build Your Own Edible Isotope booth constructed models of different argon and carbon isotopes out of marshmallows, learning that physics is both fun and delicious. Visitors young and old were fascinated by the Cloud Chamber as well as Colin Morton’s description of the cosmic rays that created the various patterns appearing while they watched. Tim Meyer and Marcello Pavan also held impromptu demonstrations explaining the posters, pamphlets and technology on display from TRIUMF, providing information on the kinds of experiments that TRIUMF performs and its many accomplishments.

In addition, attendees had the opportunity to visit TRIUMF on one of three free tours. After piling out of TRIUMF vans driven by Jean-Michel Poutissou and an NRC Fuel Cell volunteer, each group took a 30-minute tour of TRIUMF, where volunteers guided them through the Meson Hall and ISAC. The tour guides, Barry Davids, Anna Grassellino and Anthony Hillairet, answered questions from the curious visitors. Following the tour of TRIUMF the visitors next traveled to the NRC facility for a quick tour before returning to the Old Barn Community Centre. Although the tours were scheduled to take less than an hour for the round-trip, the guides willingly extended the tour depending on interest, once to over an hour and a half! At the end of the tour, the visitors were rewarded with a free TRIUMF shirt.

The volunteers from TRIUMF worked hard to inspire an interest in science, particularly among children, and joined the many other performers and activities in entertaining and educating visitors. The afternoon was an enormous success, so thank you to everyone who helped out at the Barn Raising!

By Kaitlan Huckabone
TRIUMF's Communications Assistant