Now reading: Power of Ideas tour set to launch across Canada

Take a self-guided tour from quantum to cosmos!

Power of Ideas tour set to launch across Canada

Students, teachers, and families explored the Power of Ideas exhibition at Perimeter Institute before it blazes a trail across Canada during Innovation150.

After becoming spaghettified and experimenting with time travel, Mowj al-Hammadi found herself fixated on a so-called mystery tube.

She and her fellow Grade 11 students from Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School in Waterloo were exploring the Power of Ideas exhibition in Perimeter Institute’s atrium, and the mystery tube struck Mowj has particularly fascinating.

Pull on one of the four ropes dangling from the black cylinder and another rope will retract – but it’s never the one you expect. The challenge is to figure out what’s inside the tube making the ropes behave in such counterintuitive ways.

“What is happening in there?” said Mowj. “I want to know!”

She grabbed a piece of chalk and sketched out one theory on a nearby blackboard, proposing that the ropes are fed through a loop or around a pole inside the tube.

Beside her chalk drawing was another sketch, this one depicting a tiny creature squatting in the tube, pulling ropes at random.

“That’s my theory,” said Jessica Alam, a fellow Grade 11 student from the same school. “I think there’s a gnome inside. I can hear him panting.”

The process of posing hypotheses and testing theories is one of the big themes of the Power of Ideas exhibition. While some theories are more plausible than others (Mowj’s theory is, perhaps not surprisingly, more tenable than Jessica’s), what really matters is the creative mindset needed to pose, test, and revise ideas.

While Mowj and Jessica puzzled over the mystery tube, their classmates explored other parts of the exhibition, including the curved mirror that simulates the stretching you would undergo if you fell into a black hole (“spaghettification”), a monitor that simulates time dilation, and an interactive exploration of the smallest and largest things in the universe.

Following the exhibition, they also participated in a 45-minute interactive presentation that will travel with the exhibition. The talk shared with Mowj, Jessica, and the rest of their class some of the fundamental traits of innovators, featured in fun vignettes of famous Canadian innovations and an inspirational lecture.

The Power of Ideas exhibition is part of Innovation150, a national partnership celebrating Canadian innovation for the country’s sesquicentennial in 2017. Innovation150 is a collaboration of five Canadian science outreach and research organizations, led by Perimeter, and including Actua, the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, the Canadian Association of Science Centres, and the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation.

“We’re teaching some fundamental laws of physics and science, but also the process of science,” said Nick Butt, one of five members of the Power of Ideas team, who will travel with the show across Canada throughout 2017. “It’s a pretty exciting idea that we’ll be sharing across the whole country.”

A sneak peek of the Power of Ideas tour was opened to the public on November 26 and 27, allowing guests to check out the exhibition, try a makers’ workshop, and meet the team that will share the experience across Canada over the coming year.

Officially launching in Vancouver in January 2017, Innovation150 will offer a slate of activities reaching more than 60 communities, including rural and underserviced areas. Key components of the collaboration include:

Power of Ideas National Tour – Every great innovation starts with an idea. In this travelling science expo from Perimeter Institute and Actua, young Canadians explore the incredible ability of the human mind to question, make, and innovate. The tour includes an interactive science exhibit and a hands-on mobile makerspace travelling to 60+ communities across the country, with a focus on youth, families, and Indigenous audiences.

MakerMobile – This moving maker space produced by Actua will be full of exciting technology like 3D printers, and will allow youth to experiment with hands-on learning and create their own innovations. Part of the Power of Ideas National Tour and in partnership with Actua’s national network, the MakerMobile will be focused on visiting remote and Indigenous communities, and engaging youth that would otherwise not have access to these experiences.

QUANTUM: The Exhibition – Quantum information technologies are poised to once again transform how we live, work, and play. Travelling to six Canadian cities, this fully interactive, bilingual exhibition from the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo explores how researchers are taming the fascinating world of atoms, and shares how our country is leading the world in the next quantum revolution.

Innovation Celebration Festivals – Hosted in part by Canada’s leading science centres, these large-scale festivals will amplify the excitement of the Canada 150 celebrations and inspire curiosity and innovation through a wide range of exciting activities. These major interactive showcases of Canadian innovation will take place in five to seven regions across the country.

Innovation150 Digital Hub – This go-to digital showcase about Canadian thinkers and new concepts will be the online nexus for Innovation150 activities, with opportunities to explore stories of innovation, share new ideas for a brighter future, and participate in exciting contests to experience Canadian innovation firsthand.

Public Awareness Campaign – Canadians have a remarkable history of innovation, and they can be the innovators of the future too. This national awareness campaign engages youth, families, and communities through promotions, media engagement, online content, and national Public Service Announcements.
“Innovation150 will engage Canadians of all ages in truly meaningful and enriching experiences that spark new ideas and build greater capacity for innovators of the future,” said Greg Dick, Director of Educational Outreach at Perimeter Institute.

“It’s a fun experience, but with a powerful mission – to fuel the curiosity and innovative mindset that will give young Canadians the tools they need to build a brighter future for their country and the world.”

The Power of Ideas Tour is supported by the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, The Cowan Foundation, Toyota Foundation, and Superior Lodging.


Perimeter Institute Director Neil Turok explores a universe of ideas in the presentation he delivered across Canada in 2017 as part of the country’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

/Jun 29, 2018

From mountain passes and ice roads to prairie heat and blazing fall colours, the Innovation150 partnership delivered a year of fun, fascinating science to Canadians of all ages.

/Dec 05, 2017

In May 2017, 11 of Canada’s largest science organizations converged on Cathedral High School in Hamilton, ON to offer the grand prize Innovation150 Expo. The pop-up experience brought together leading scientists, cutting-edge technologies, and opportunities to celebrate Canadian ideas and ingenuity. Read the full story. 

/Jul 20, 2017