Public invited to VIU's Extreme Science Show May 14

VIU Physics professors Dr. Greg Arkos (standing) and Ray Penner (laying on a bed of nails) are part of VIU’s 7th annual Extreme Science Show May 14 at the Nanaimo campus.

May 11, 2015 - 9:30am

Explosions, fire, lightning and illusions, plus a ‘colours of the rainbow’ demonstration and a neat balancing act are some of the exciting features of the 7th annual Extreme Science Show at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Malaspina Theatre on May 14 at 7 pm.

The fun, occasionally loud and popular public science show by faculty from VIU’s Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics departments will appeal to an audience of all ages. Tickets ($10 each) are available from Kool & Child (102-2517 Bowen Rd.) or in the VIU Physics Building (315), Rooms 208, 209 or 210.

The Extreme Science Show is staged by VIU faculty including Dr. Greg Arkos, Dr. Debbie Hearn, Owen Peer, and Penner (Physics) along with Peter Diamente and Sandy Patrick (Chemistry), and Patrick Ng (Mathematics), as well as VIU students Leah Isherwood, Christine Holt, Sarah Jones, and Josh Pearson. The group will entertain 1,200 school children in four sold-out shows this year, in addition to the public presentation.

“Every year we get a great response from the schools and the local community,” says Physic professor Ray Penner. “We are thrilled that the audiences enjoy the show as much as we enjoy putting them on.”

“It’s rewarding for us as a group to get kids excited about science,” adds Penner, “and it goes the other way, too. The response from the kids certainly keeps us ‘extreme scientists’ excited about putting on the show.”

Extreme Science is a popular spring fundraiser for LED Africa (Lights, Education and Development in Africa), a registered charity started by Penner several years ago. ( )

The organization’s main goal is to provide solar powered lighting and supplies to rural secondary schools in Malawi. Since 2009, a total of 20 schools have received the lighting system with the help of technicians from the University of Malawi.

The single solar panel, the battery, and cables required for each classroom are purchased from suppliers within Malawi. The battery box (which holds the battery and the controls) and stands for the LED lanterns, are all built by Malawian carpenters. The lanterns are also assembled by Malawians.

“Having the system built and maintained by Malawians is an important part of the project,” says Penner.

In 2013, money raised by Extreme Science ticket sales went towards buying over $20,000 worth of textbooks and science supplies for these schools.

“Most of these schools have very few textbooks which students have to share,” adds Penner. “The students and staff were very excited to receive books. Having an adequate number of textbooks along with the lighting systems should help more students be successful in their academic studies.”

Last year, money raised by ticket sales went towards purchasing science equipment for these same rural secondary schools.

“I was surprised to find that these schools have absolutely no science equipment,” says Penner. “It’s very difficult to teach students physical science if you are unable to show them what you are talking about. Schools were especially eager to get some basic electricity kits.”

Money raised from this year’s science shows will also go towards more textbooks and science equipment.

For more information on the Extreme Science show, visit:

For more information on the Malawi project, visit:



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 E: Twitter: @viunews

Tags: Teaching and Learning

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