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Science under the big top: Calgary exhibit explores connection between science and the circus

Click to play video: 'Science under the big top: Calgary exhibit explores connection between science and the circus' Science under the big top: Calgary exhibit explores connection between science and the circus
WATCH: You'll soon be able to try your hand at some amazing feats at a new science exhibit in Calgary. The opportunity comes with a chance to learn some cool things while you're at it. Gil Tucker has the story – Jan 29, 2019

A section of Calgary’s Spark Science Centre now looks like an old-time travelling circus, as staff set up for a new exhibit called Circus: Science Under The Big Top.

The exhibit explores the science behind many traditional circus attractions.

“[The sideshow tent] really explores human physiology and how some people can do things that the common person can’t do,” Spark’s Kat Dornian says.

READ MORE: National Circus School is looking for talent!

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One part of the tent features a small box that would have been used by a performer like The Human Pretzel.

“People who visit can try their hand at contortionism, and see if they can fit inside the box,” Dornian says.

Another area depicts a sword swallower in action, with visitors able to control a mock sword.

“This exhibit explores the science of our digestive tract,” Dornian says, “and also our gag reflex.”

Visitors can also get a hands-on experience at a high-wire rope, suspended three metres above the floor.

“Testing your fear and testing your balance, getting across this rope,” Dornia says. “So that we don’t fall and get caught by the harness.”

The exhibit is especially interesting for one of the workers hired to come in to help with setup.

“I was enthralled by watching circus performers as a kid,” Paul Isaak says, “which inspired me to learn to juggle.

“Juggling’s actually turned into a career for me, so I’ve gone around the world juggling, performing with various circuses.”

READ MORE: Pickering circus show features world’s fastest juggler

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When he does juggling demonstrations, Isaak often points out that juggling is a good way to demonstrate Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion.

“There’s science in everything we do,” Isaak says. “If we can get the kids jazzed about finding science everywhere, then that’s what the science centre’s all about.”

Circus: Science Under The Big Top opens Feb. 2 and runs until June 9 at the Spark Science Centre.

 

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