New exhibit showcases damage done by natural disasters


Throughout April, the Telus Spark Science Centre is home to a travelling exhibition that all Calgarians may be able relate to — especially after the flood in June. Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters is a collection of artifacts, information and interactive activities that show the devastation of natural disasters around the world, and how science fits into these life-changing events.

“The exhibit talks to those geological, ecological and social questions about natural disasters,” says Cassondra Dickin, communications specialist at Telus Spark. “But it also has a human side to it.”

Visitors of Nature Unleashed can build their own volcano and enter a simulator demonstrating what it would be like to sit in the centre of a tornado.

Dickin says the interactive additions to the exhibit as well as scientific aspects are capturing the attention of all ages. She adds that young people have been getting a lot out of the experience as well.

Much of the collection is from The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The displays focus on recent global disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. The exhibit shows how scientists are working to better predict these events as well as how to deal with their devastating effects. To show the human element, Nature Unleashed takes a look at how these catastrophes reshaped the lives of survivors.

The connection to the 2013 Alberta floods, Dickin says, has been an important take-away for Calgarians visiting the exhibit.

“People are saying: ‘We’re not alone in this, and it happens all over the world.’ We can learn how other people are dealing and coping with it,” Dickin says.JDisaster7Part of what makes Nature Unleashed so engaging for visitors are the displays featuring photography of a disaster scene coupled with items pulled directly from the rubble.

Photo by Larissa Pinhal

Kristie Mason was able to walk through the exhibit as a parent volunteer for Captain Nichola Goddard School. While the flood did not affect her home, she says her family took part in volunteer recovery, and that the exhibit connected them back to 2013’s disaster.

“They’ve seen first hand what a natural disaster causes,” Mason says. “And I think they can learn (from the exhibit) that these events hurt a lot of people.”

Telus Spark also displays artifacts from the Alberta flood that shows similar connections to other disasters in the exhibit. Dickin says the exhibit is a great way to understand and connect disasters from an international, global and local perspective, all while providing some scientific explanation.

“Telus Spark is about inspiring inquiry and inspiring curiosity, and as you come through here, you may not have all the answers,” she says. “But walking through the exhibit, you may start to ask a lot of questions and find the explanation.”

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