TEDx Kanata: High school student looks to rebrand science through dance

More dance. Less 'ugh, science.'

Last month, Kanata North Business Association held a TEDx event to imagine what Canada might need in the next 150 years. Over the next few weeks, Techopia will be recapping the technology and science-minded ideas presented at the independently organized conference.

While researchers and innovators may have fallen under the spell of science and technology, many more are seemingly disenchanted by the field, observes Ottawa high school student Mathilde Papillon in her TEDx Kanata talk.

A self-proclaimed lover of science, nowhere does Papillon see this troubling disconnect more than in her own school, where STEM often has a negative conception and evokes looks of boredom.

“Unfortunately, my burning urge to share is often met by one particular reaction, a reaction that I think can be summed up by one particular expression: ‘Ugh, science,’” she tells the crowd.

Papillon, as passionate a dancer as she is a scientist, says she was inspired by a school project to integrate her two loves in an attempt to rebrand science.

“How might we communicate science in such a way that makes it a little bit louder, more accessible, more approachable, more trustworthy?”

Onstage, she shows how moving bodies on a stage can represent an abstract concept like Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Papillon explains that as objects move more quickly, the slower the rate they experience time; The dancer speeds her movements and, simultaneously, the quarks onstage seem to slow accordingly.

“Dance has the power to efficiently communicate some of science’s most complex theories,” she says.

Papillon believes that in the next 150 years, the need for Canadian and scientists to be on the same page will be increasingly more important, and in order to do so, science will need to be communicate in a language everybody can understand.