Delivering hands-on, audience-participation science presentations that bear more in common with a daytime talk show cooking segment than “your typical science talk”, award-winning science journalist and children’s author Peter McMahon is fast-becoming one of Canada’s most prolific and sought-after science presenters.
From titles like “Extreme Makover: Medical Robot Edition” (a take-off on the popular home-reno show, not on plastic surgery!) to “Celebrity Tour of the Night Sky”, Peter’s science talks are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Yet, these witty chunks of “edutainment” contain loads of interesting facts, curriculim-based learning opportunities, and water-cooler tidbits that will get youth audiences and the general public talking for hours afterwards…
Peter’s public speaking presentations:
- Science Adventures
- Planetarium shows
- Other presentations
- Design a presentation!
Interested in talking to Peter directly about one of these presentations? Click on the “Contact Peter about this talk” link under the talk you’re interested in below. For an inquiry about multiple presentations, just click on one of the talks you’re interested in and specify the other talks you’d like to inquire about as well.
Detailed presentation descriptions and contact links:
0-28,000 in 60 seconds: Transportation’s Next Big Thing
High-speed maglev “cobra” trains, boats in supersonic tubes, and personal spacecraft round-out this look at the future of travel on land, water, air, and beyond. Includes on-stage demos and behind-the-scenes elements from Peter’s Machines of the Future series books Ultimate Trains and Space Tourism.
Will robots ever have true intelligence (and if they do, will they help us or harm us?) Take a look at the past, present, and future of our quest to build artificial beings. Includes the chance to try out a brief audience-participation task with a working robotic arm.
See how slithering “snakebots” can perform surgery without leaving a scar, and how a Canadian creation is even doing brain surgery. PLUS find out what the Canadian Space Agency is doing in orbit that might help make us healthier back down on Earth. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
What is Science?: A journalist’s unexpected adventures
This 45-minute look at how the adventure of science isn’t always something that can be summed-up in an equation includes three audience-participation experiments. (Click here to see one of them live on stage.) A great motivator for getting kids into the sciences and technology. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
From underground observatories to microscopic “super-hero-bears” that can live in a radiation-filled vacuum, take a look at the oddest aspects of the world of discovery. (Also available: “Scary Science” See below…)
Watch the world “morph” through 600-million-years’-worth of geologic change before your eyes and descend into this full-tilt look at the latest paleontological insights, as well as a glimpse into what it’s like to go on a dino-dig. Includes the chance to touch real fossils, including trilobites and a tyrannosaur tooth. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Did you know there were robots 500 years ago? Or that a series of “Canadian” constellations (including a canoe and Bigfoot) Were created hundreds and thousands of years ago? Find out more about how everything new is sometimes old in this mind-bending blast from the past.
Walk inside a sports-stadium-sized particle accelerator, plunge into an underwater lab the size of BC, travel to an “observatory” 2 km underground, and see Canada’s 25-metre long space robot in action.
Suspicious substances, malicious robots, killer asteroids, and “demon stars”: It’s no wonder science can sometimes be a little scary. See these and more in this almost-too-scary-for-you presentation (can include modules from Astronomy of Harry Potter and/or Astronomy of Star Trek.)
From concrete pianos to nuclear-powered cars to a Canadian-built “flying saucer” this 45-minute presentation looks at the most extreme inventions that never took-off (and why.)
Science Road Trip 2012
From the world’s oldest fossils on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula through a nation-wide network of eco-tourism preserves, to the world’s largest underwater research lab off the coast of Victoria, BC, check out all the science related stops along the way (as with many of these talks, this presentation can be delivered for youth or a general-public/family audience.) (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Since the 1980s, our known-solar-system has grown from 9 planets to nearly 200 “worlds”. From cities on the Moon (really this time!) to sailing on the seas of Saturn’s moon, find out what our exploration of the solar system might hold a century from now.
Did you know there are nearly 180 known-moons in our solar system (in addition to a dozen-or-so planets and “dwarf planets”)? Take a trip to the (possibly?) oceans of Europa, probe a volcano on Io, and watch the ice geysers of Enceladus explode in this whirlwind tour through the worlds of the solar system among the planets, and beyond… (Contact Peter about this talk…)
While there’s more water on Earth than anywhere else we know, you might be surprised to find out that there’s actually a fair amount of water throughout the rest of the solar system (and beyond.) Find out where the cosmic H2O is at in this lively (and wet) 45-minute presentation.
Killer asteroids, demon stars, 10 ways to die in space, as well as the most important thing you need to know about black holes…And that’s just the first 10 minutes of this 45-minute look at the scarier aspects of outer space. Join the search for the biggest star in the universe (so big, it’s actually a little scary) PLUS see how spooky alien life could be. (Option to include a look at the astronomical references surrounding villains in Harry Potter.) (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Did you know that – in addition to being more than 1,000 times the size of our home planet – Jupiter is so big that, if it were about 6 dozen times more massive, it would be able to churn away as its own star. What’s more, Jupiter has 63-known-moons and a system of rings like a mini-asteroid belt. All this seems to make Jupiter like a solar system within a solar system. Come explore it in this 45-minute (plus Q&A) adventure. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
According to a recent study of studies of what killed the dinosaurs, a rock from space most likely did our prehistoric friends in. But how did this happen, are we sure it was responsible for such a great dying then (and before)? And could it happen again? Take a look in this interactive 45+ minute presentation that follows the trail of a superasteroid from life to explosive death. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Based on Peter’s award-nominated 2011 science experiment book in Kids Can Press’ Machines of the Future series, this ‘edutaining’ presentation looks at the science and history of the beginnings of personal spaceflight as well as where it’s all going, using lively audience-participation quizzes and on-stage demonstrations that will leave you spinning (and hopefully not queasy…) (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Based on Peter’s work as a writer for the Canadian Space Agency, this presentation is a celebration of the actually-impressive amount of contribution Canada and Canadians have made in space, from rockets launched from Manitoba in the 1960s to the first Canucks in orbit in the 80s to helping build, crew, experiment on and command the International Space Station. Word is a Canadian-made instrument on Mars may even guest-star in this patriotic talk. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Blast off to the largest multinational engineering project in human history and see how science-fiction dreams are becoming a reality on the now-completed International Space Station. Larger than five NHL hockey rinks, see how this giant office, hotel, and science lab in orbit could soon serve as a stepping stone to bases on the Moon, human missions to asteroids, and maybe even Mars. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
More than half a century ago, it rivaled anything else in the air. Can you believe that we Canadians built a Canuck version of the F-22 Raptor?…In 1959?? In this presentation, see how the rise and fall of Canada’s one-and-only fighter jet program shaped our nation’s aerospace industry and what Canadian space scientists and engineers are doing in the Arrow’s spirit today. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Gone are the days when space food consisted of dehydrated “mystery” meals (that’s an actual NASA food label) and jugs of Tang: Today’s space station astronauts can select their menus from almost anything available on Earth, including meals prepared by celebrity chefs such as Rachel Ray and Wolfgang Puck. Serving and eating such cosmic delicacies is another matter…See how astronauts and space tourists of the present and future chow down in this guaranteed-”edutaining” presentation. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Peter’s signature talk (as well as the variations below), based on his travels to research his “Wilderness Astronomer” column, which appears in each issue of Sky News: The Canadian Magazine of Astronomy & Stargazing (where Peter is a contributing editor) as well as “wild astro” assignments for other publications such as Canadian Geographic, Parks Canada’s web site, and Peter’s own wild-astro creation www.wildernessastronomy.com (more details in the variations below.) (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Explore the night sky from Canada’s dark sky preserves: “astronomy parks” where local ordinances defend the night against urban light pollution and learn how you can set off for one (or more) of them for an ultimate wilderness astronomy expedition to rival (or compliment) the most satisfying golf, fishing, or hunting trip, or your next family vacation. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Did you know there’s a Sasquatch constellation? Or a giant canoe in the sky? Tag along for this presentation in which Peter points out dozens of constellation patterns created hundreds and even thousands of years ago in what is now Canada. With the help of elders and storytellers in brilliant multimedia sidebars, Peter presents these star stories with respect and drama, culminating in a never-before-seen all-sky map of many of the major First Nations constellations together for the first time ever (produced in conjunction with First Nations educators in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.) (Contact Peter about this talk…)
In introducing Peter’s “Wilderness Astronomer” column in Sky News magazine, world-renowned astronomy writer and editor Terence Dickinson mentioned “sure, you may have to ‘go somewhere’, but dark sky preserves will be there “for your children and grandchildren.” Since that issue (Nov/Dec 2011) Peter has taken magazine readers on a tour of a new “astronomy park” each issue. In doing so – and in this presentation -he aims to spotlight the last holdouts against urban light pollution in Canada. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
“What’s that crescent-shaped cloud up there?” “Where?” “See that one, right where that bird just flew…” “Holy cow, I think that’s the Moon…” Believe-it-or-not (and depending on the time of day), you can see a half dozen objects in space during the day. What’s more, modern consumer electronics now allow you to see the stars in broad-daylight, before they’re even visible at night. Find out how (and when) in this eye-opening hands-on presentation/workshop not available anywhere else in the universe. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Unlike many objects in the sky, the Moon is a world so close, it seems like we can walk its surface with nothing but a pair of household binoculars. Find out how to trek along lunar ridges, mountain ranges, craters, and “seas” with equipment (or aps) you probably already have. PLUS learn about the latest plans to return people to our neighbour in space and how you might someday be able to go on vacation there yourself. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Even catch yourself wondering if that space reference you just heard in The Simpsons, or Futurama was a real place you heard about on the news or from the latest NASA mission? Odds are, if you had to wonder about this, it’s probably true. Take a look at the real-life astronomy references in some of pop-culture’s favourite brands, from Star Wars and Star Trek to Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
The Astronomy of Star Trek
Did you know the star cited as the home solar system for Mr Spock and other Vulcans (er, until the J.J. Abrams reboot ; ) really exists AND that it really has a planet orbiting around it? From Rigel to Orion and beyond, check out the real-life places in space that play a prominent role in the Star Trek universe… (Contact Peter about this talk…)
The Astronomy of Star Wars
Ever wonder how those Jedi ended up “on the other side of the galaxy” from the clutches of the evil Empire? Or what Chewbacca’s planet might really be like? “Punch it Chewie!” And get ready to jump into lightspeed on a trip to find out what aspects of the Star Wars universe are possible from a physics, astronomy, and planetary science perspective … (Contact Peter about this talk…)
The Astronomy of Harry Potter
Find out what real-life astronomy has to do with characters and scenes in some of the most popular books of all time. Unlock the cosmic connections to the names of characters like Sirius Black, Bellatrix Lestrange, and more PLUS see how real places in the “muggle” world of astronomy figure prominently into life as a wizard. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Ever wonder what that cool star pattern was on the door to the Dwarf kingdom in the movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring? According to J.R.R. Tolkein’s books, it’s the Elvish constellation Valacirca (of course!) Even if you actually knew that, did you know it’s part of a constellation in the real world? Answer the call of Mordor in this epic quest that links the cosmology of Middle Earth with present-day science. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
PLANETARIUM SHOWS (For planetariums…and folk without planetariums)
The following presentations described above in the ASTRONOMY section are also available as planetarium shows for youth and/or the general public. Many of these have already been designed and/or delivered at some of the nation’s most prominent planetariums, from the Ontario Science Centre to TELUS World of Science Edmonton…
Canada’s Wild Skies: Campsite Stargazing in our nation’s wild spaces (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Canada’s Star Stories: First Nations Constellations from Sea to Sea (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Celebrity Tour of the Night Sky (Contact Peter about this talk…)
The Astronomy of Star Trek (Contact Peter about this talk…)
The Astronomy of Harry Potter (Contact Peter about this talk…)
The Astronomy of The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings (Contact Peter about this talk…)
This full-tilt presentation can be given on a standard LCD projected screen but was originally delivered as a planetarium show, with the option to include timely news items and aerospace milestones, as well as using any related spacecraft projections available in a given star theatre. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Other planetarium shows
If you’re interested in one of Peter’s presentations on this page as a planetarium show and don’t see it in this list, contact Peter to see if it’s doable as a planetarium presentation. Heck he’ll try anything once, so why not ask!?
No planetarium? No problem!
Peter has access to a number of portable inflatable planetariums that can be set-up at your presentation location for a nominal extra charge. To inquire about how all that works, drop Peter a line!
Join children’s author and science journalist Peter McMahon for a look behind the scenes of the kids fiction and non-fiction publishing landscape in Canada. Participants will get to dissect two of Peter’s recently-published books, create (and critique) their own ideas, look at a new book currently in production, and find out what the best practices are on approaching, submitting, and publishing a manuscript with a traditional or e-publisher. (Offered as a 1 hr presentation or 7 hr workshop) (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Using a decade of online know-how working for DiscoveryChannel.ca, the Sci/Tech section of CTV.ca and others, Peter takes participants through a hands-on look at the current new-media landscape for science sites, showing how search engine optimization, search marketing, and writing for search engines can dramatically impact the traffic to your digital science property. (Offered as a 1 hr presentation or 7 hr workshop) (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Just 10 years ago, a major TV network was lucky to offer a handful of shows in HD. Today, you can purchase a camera that will film in HD from your local big-box store. And cameras that rival most used for modern TV dramas, reality shows, sporting events, and documentaries are available to buy or rent for anyone who wants to get into the game. Science journalist and editor Peter McMahon takes participants through the (very) basics of filming and editing in HD for home or business use in this 1-7 hour presentation/workshop. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Find out how to write for digital content readers, how to reach those readers, and how to make money doing it during this 1-7 hour presentation/workshop. From identifying and servicing a market to leveraging your existing talents and connections, you’ll get the tools you need to compete in the ever-growing medium of blogging, microblogging, and social media/networking. (Contact Peter about this talk…)
Don’t see the subject matter you’re looking for a sci/tech/nature/digital talk on here and hoping Peter can do something for you? Odds are he’s probably presented on that topic and just forgot to add it here…Whether or not that’s the case, drop Peter a line to discuss your custom sci/tech/nature presentation needs. (Contact Peter to design a presentation…)
(NOTE: Modified versions of existing talks can be delivered at no extra charge. Depending on the time required, never-before-given talks may require additional hours/charges for this service.)
*** The above presentations, presentation titles, descriptions, and ideas are the copywritten © 2012 intellectual property of Peter McMahon and noticemyscience.com Reproduction and/or performance without written permission is strictly prohibited ***