Science Literacy Week success! Next up: Science Odyssey 2017

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By Jesse Hildebrand, Guest blogger and founder of Science Literacy Week

The nationwide celebration of science that was Science Literacy Week (September 19–25) included 520 events in 60+ cities this year. Public talks, explosive science demos, nature hikes, dissections, star parties, you name it – if it engaged the public and revolved around science it was likely part of the week.

At its heart, this event focused on great science books and content – so when events took place at libraries, participants were encouraged to learn more by borrowing great popular science. Furthermore, the Indigo Books link was the single most clicked-on part of the Science Literacy Week website. It was great to see people excited about great science reads!


Photo: Thomas Fisher Library

Visitors to University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library were treated to a display of rare manuscripts including a first print run copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Photo: Thomas Fisher Library


We were lucky with the media too. Science Literacy Week was picked up by student and city newspapers across Canada and also got a spot on Toronto’s Newstalk 1010 radio station. Throughout the week, news outlets from coast to coast included our event when reporting on the Ontario Science Centre’s survey on the state of science understanding in Canada, which was a huge boost for the argument that good science communication is important.



Television co-host of Daily Planet, Dan Riskin and SciLit Week Founder, Jesse Hildebrand celebrate #ScilLit16 at Nerd Night Toronto. Photo courtesy of Nerd Night Toronto


There’s no need to wait a whole year for the next Science Literacy Week to get your science fix. The second nation-wide Science Odyssey, run by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), will take place over May 12–21, 2017. NSERC’s plan is to use these week-long events as twin pillars of science outreach – a ‘spring spectacular’ with Science Odyssey and a ‘fall spectacular’ with Science Literacy Week – to help showcase the excellence and diversity of science and science outreach in Canada.

I’m a big believer in large events like these to highlight the importance of science communication. If all kinds of science outreach organizations join together to create an extraordinary event, maybe more people will attend. Maybe, with a huge diversity of great resources, they’ll not just participate in a single activity but be inspired to read a great book. Maybe they’ll see that a passion for highlighting the wonderful world of science is something they can do for a living, and blow people’s minds in the process.


Children test themselves against gravity trying out Stomp Rockets at the CPSX open house. Photo: Kai Hutchence

Children test themselves against gravity trying out Stomp Rockets at the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) open house. Photo: Kai Hutchence


I hope you’ll join us in showing how inspiring and exciting great science can be. Whether it’s attending Science Odyssey or Science Literacy Week in 2017, helping to spread the word about science through blogs or presentations, or simply checking out our great resources online to learn more, we’re looking to foster a culture of science in Canada and would love your help. If you’re keen to learn more, please feel free to get in touch with me at

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