CAGIS Virtual
Past Events (2021-2022)

Saturday January 15 – Build a Zip Line

While most zip lines are now used for entertainment, they were created to transport people, carry supplies across rugged terrains, and for biologists to research rainforests without disturbing animal habitats. In this session, we will be making zip lines to transport small objects across a room! Learn about physics, friction, and the safety engineering behind these fast contraptions.

Preparation: single hole punch or a wooden skewer to puncture a hole in a cup (with adult supervision), scissors, tape, string (dental floss, shoelaces, fishing line, or other smooth string), chair or elevated surface, a pile of books (or other weights to anchor zipline), one (1) plastic or paper cup, three (3) paper clips or binder clips, one (1) paper or plastic straw, one (1) toilet paper roll, small objects to transport (batteries, ping pong balls, candies, small toys, etc.)

Expert: Joelle Javier is an elevating and amusement devices safety engineer who designed a new rollercoaster for Canada’s Wonderland.

Saturday December 4 – Edible Engineering Challenge

Ready for a delicious task? Join us for a special event that will explore the edible engineering behind gingerbread houses. We’ll start with a Kahoot quiz, then move on to some practical construction tips, and a building challenge.  Will yours be an awe-inspiring tower or a creative design? Get your blueprints ready … it’s time to build!

This is a bonus event organized by the CAGIS Teen Ambassadors.

Preparation: 1 box of graham crackers (can also use saltine crackers), 1/2 cup icing sugar, water, bowl, fork.  Optional: items to decorate such as candies, sprinkles, pretzels, chocolate chips, etc.

Saturday November 27 – Mineralogy of Carbon

Have you ever taken a close look at a pencil? The soft, dark core is a mineral called graphite.  It’s made entirely of carbon atoms, just like another very popular (and expensive) mineral — diamond!  How can two minerals be made of the same atoms, yet look so different?  We’ll discover the secret (and learn more about the fascinating world of mineralogy) as we build atomic models of both.

Preparation: A bag of marshmallows or candy gummies, 30 toothpicks

Expert: Katherine Dunnell is a mineralogy technician in the Department of Natural History at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Saturday November 20 – Polarization Art

What do LCD monitors and sunglasses have in common? They both use polarisers, a filter that blocks light waves travelling in specific directions! In this session, we will make secret art using light. Learn about light polarization and how light is used in modern technologies, like LCD screens and lasers.

Preparation: LCD monitor (any computer screen works), polarizing sunglasses (Dollarama sunglasses are not polarizing) or 3D movie glasses (modern, not red and blue), transparent tape (not “invisible tape”), transparent surface (old CD case, photo frame, Ziploc bag, or transparent Tupperware). Optional: camera to take pictures of your secret art. Tip: Test to see if your sunglasses are polarizing by looking through them at a phone screen. You should see different colours as you tilt your head.

Experts: Irene Melgarejo Lermas, John Donohue, Kimia Mohammadi, and Sarah Meng Li from the Institute of Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo

Saturday November 13 – Ink Chemistry

Ink was invented over 4500 years ago! Today, there are many different kinds of ink, including ones that are invisible. In this session, we will make natural inks and invisible magic ink. Learn about chemistry, pH, and acid-base reactions. 


Natural ink materials: ½ cup of berries (fresh or frozen will work) or ½ cup of ground coffee, vinegar, salt, bowl, water, fine-meshed strainer, a kettle with adult supervision to boil water (if you are using coffee grounds), paper, paintbrush. Optional (if you would like to use ink to dye paper): thick paper or cardstock, a shallow tray, rags you do not mind getting stained

Magic ink materials: baking soda, water, 2 bowls, measuring cups and spoons (½ cup, 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon), 2 regular spoons to stir solutions, paper, paintbrush, rubbing alcohol, turmeric

Expert: Brianna Rector is a PhD Candidate at Western University studying carbon steel corrosion dynamic model development

Saturday November 6 – Animate Your Name

Although some people may think that Scratch is only used to teach young children how to code, it actually has powerful drawing and coding tools that can be used to create professional animations. In this session, we will use Scratch to code and animate our own names! Check this example of an animated CAGIS logo (press the green flag on the screen)! 

Preparation: Sign up for a free Scratch account at and make note of your username and password. Please do not use your real name as your username for privacy and safety reasons. 

Expert: Ana Rodrigues has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and is a volunteer coordinator for CAGIS Toronto. Her passion for technology started when she learned how to code at ten years old. She has 20 years of experience teaching coding for students of all ages and now develops STEAM projects for her company, GarageLab.

Saturday October 30 – Candy Grabber

Trick or treat? If we had to pick, we would pick treats! In this session, we will make candy grabbers and learn about engineering, levers, and other simple machines. 

Preparation: nine (9) standard-sized popsicle sticks, two (2) thick straws (smoothie-sized or bubble tea-sized) or paper to make straws, duct tape (if you are using paper straws or will be making straws from paper), eight (8) toothpicks, scissors, tape, one (1) bowl filled with candy. Optional: sewing needle (with adult supervision). Wear your Halloween costume for a chance to win a prize!

Expert: Olivia Cirone is a mechanical and biomedical engineering student at McMaster University. She works with the McMaster Women in Engineering Society, an organization that promotes, supports, and uplifts women and young girls in the field of engineering.

Saturday October 23 – Brain Building

True or false: We only use 10 percent of our brain. False! We use our whole brain when doing simple activities and even while we are sleeping. In this session, we will build a model brain! Learn how to identify different parts of the brain and understand what cognitive functions they serve.

Preparation: seven (7) different colours of plasticine/modelling clay (100g of each) or salt dough prepared in seven (7) colours (view instructions for salt dough here), spoon or fork. Optional: please print this brain template (PDF/PowerPoint) and roll your plasticine/modelling clay/salt dough into long noodles prior to the session. 

Expert: Pavlina Faltynek has a M.Sc. in behavioural and cognitive neuroscience from Western University.

Saturday October 16 – A Trip to Titan

Did you know that Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is one of the most Earth-like celestial bodies discovered? With a thick atmosphere and lakes of methane, the surface of Titan looks eerily similar to Earth. In this session, we will build a model of the Huygens probe, which was landed on Titan. Learn about exploring celestial objects, conditions for a habitable celestial body, and the upcoming 2025 Dragonfly mission to Titan.

Preparation: two (2) tart foil tins or tin foil, a cup, string, a plastic bag, ruler, marker, scissors, glue or tape, hexagon template (please print two copies of this page, cut along the lines to create hexagon halves, and tape together to create a full hexagon)

Expert: Jahnavi Shah is a PhD student in Geophysics and Planetary Science at the University of Western Ontario.

Saturday October 2 – Leaf Chromatography

Can you be-leaf that it’s fall already? As the seasons change, so do leaf colours. But have you ever wondered where the colours come from and why leaves change colour in the fall? In this session, we will reveal the colours of fall leaves using a chromatography technique. Learn about leaf pigments, photosynthesis, and how leaves know when to change colours. 

Preparation: green leaves from three (3) different plants, nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol (any percentage works), three (3) tall cups (that will hold the nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol), paper towels or coffee filters (white in colour if possible), scissors, tape, three (3) sticks (popsicles, chopsticks, or twigs)

Expert: Dr. Gerry Gourlay has a PhD in forest and tree biology from the University of Victoria and is a volunteer coordinator of CAGIS Victoria.

Saturday September 25 – Papermaking at Home

Did you know that paper was invented over 2000 years ago, and most Canadians use 308 kilograms of paper per year? In this session, we will be making our own handmade paper from recycled scraps. Gather your scrap paper and learn about environmental sustainability and the chemistry of paper manufacturing.

Preparation: blender with adult supervision, scrap paper, water, paper towels or rags, a large plate or surface to work on. Optional: pantyhose and a wire coat hanger, a large plastic tub, things to add to the paper (dried flowers and leaves, coloured paper)

Expert: Botanical PaperWorks, an eco-company that makes plantable paper