Calgary Zoo representative thrills science fair visitors

Brian Keating was just 21 years old when he went up to the Arctic to work cleaning floors, ashtrays and everything else at the weather station on Resolute Island.

Vera Yu

Brian Keating was just 21 years old when he went up to the Arctic to work cleaning floors, ashtrays and everything else at the weather station on Resolute Island.

It was long before his current position, heading up the outreach department at the Calgary Zoo.

But even as a young man he enjoyed the outdoors and would hike hundreds of miles to see the local flora and fauna.

It was the summer and the sun was out constantly.

One day hiking at 2 a.m. he saw a pack of Arctic wolves. Keating laid down on his belly and watched them with his binoculars for an hour, as they scratched and played.

When he did finally have to leave to get some sleep before work, he couldn’t help but let out a howl. Most of the wolves completely ignored Keating, but one wolf put his snout to the sky and howled back. He said he’ll never forget that moment and that connection with something wild.

Keating was one of the speakers who entertained those who attended the Central Alberta Festival of Science Saturday at Central Middle School.

Children could also find vertebrae and sharks teeth in plaster, paint bugs or make green slime out of Borax at a Nova Petrochemicals booth. They could check out miniature planes in the Central Alberta Radio Fun Flyers room, go to the Red Deer College’s chemistry room or pet a hedgehog and other animals at the “Horse Sence” petting zoo. The event was sponsored by the Central Alberta Science Network, which helps promote science and brings speakers into classrooms.

Lucio Gelmini, the chair of the chemistry department at Grant MacEwan College, captivated children with his demonstrations Saturday.

He showed them how a combustion engine works by coating the inside of a large water bottle with methanol. He poured out the liquid, so just a trace remained, and then ignited the fumes inside. The water bottle lit up with blue flame and the audience lit up with excitement.

“We want to make sure kids understand science is fun, science is interesting and science is all around us,” said Gelmini, after his presentation. He has been presenting at schools for the past five years and visits around 100 a year now. He said he does it just to see the looks on students’ faces.

Red Deer mother Shannon Zinger was there with her daughter Haley, 5, and son Josh, 7, for the first time.

Haley loved the petting zoo and Josh enjoyed making the green slime. Zinger said the event shows them that everything around us is science.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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