Nerd Nite 54: Nature, and the Internet

You’ve feasted, you’ve feted. But have you spent enough of your free time thinking of nerdy topics? How about getting nerdy about the outdoors, and at the same time, taking a deep dive into computers. This is the Nerd Nite for you!

Let’s ring in a nerdy New Year together! See you in 2020!

Science demo starts at 7:30pm. Trivia starts at 7:45pm. Main show kicks off at 8pm.

When: Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance (plus fees + GST)
No minors.

Get your tickets NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

Edmonton’s Greatest Asset: The River Valley
Marcel Chichak

Ask people anywhere about Edmonton’s greatest asset and most will say ‘the Mall’ or ‘Hockey’, but in fact, our greatest asset is hidden in plain sight. From its origin near the turn of the 20th century to an energetic plan fifty years ago, the system has expanded to encompass a contiguous segment of river valley from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan. This system serves many purposes including preservation of riparian habitat; wildlife connectivity; control of development in the floodplain; and recreation. The river valley provides an incredible wealth of nature for everyone to use, for free. This talk will explore the health benefits of accessing the river valley trail system and show our nerd pals its history, the extent of the trail system, where to access it and what they can do there to find physical and mental health.

Marcel was born in Yellowknife NWT sometime in the middle of the last century and although he has yet to grow up, the growing he did was done here in Edmonton. Somehow, he managed to graduate from engineering school and successfully navigated Alberta’s boom and bust cycles working as a bridge engineer throughout western Canada for 35 years before retiring last year. He’s also a serial hobbyist having been a large-format black and white photographer, woodworker, car rally navigator, HAM radio operator and amateur historian. In what passes for his spare time, Marcel restores antique cars, cycles year-round and runs marathons.

How the Internet works like a terrible company
David Woods

Ever wonder how the internet works? Ever work for a really terrible company? Well there are more similarities there than you may think! The internet is really quite a giant mess of wires, devices, configurations, companies, parties, and protocols that all come together to work as one of the most complicated machines humanity has ever created (and you use to look at cat memes).

Dave got an Apple II at 9 years old and spent a lot of time on that little box with the green screen. No clue what he was doing but something must have clicked. He would type in programs from the back of magazines (What kids magazines shipped with BASIC code in them? We may never know!). Dave kept learning and reading all things I could about computers and quickly landed work in the field doing networking and software development. Eventually he found that companies were not nerdy enough and struck out on his own. He has now had his own software development and consulting company for over 15 years!

Why You Should Think About Thinking
Linden Couteret

What does it mean to think about something? How does it feel to learn? How did your math teacher know what to do next on that weird word problem that still bugs you to this day? These questions all relate to the educational concept of metacognition, often oversimplified to “thinking about thinking.” A more thorough definition can be given as being aware of, knowing about, and controlling one’s own thinking and learning. This talk will get you thinking about thinking about thinking, how it applies to whatever endeavours you take on, and how it can maybe make you better at them.

From an early age, Linden Couteret (she/her/they/them) showed signs of nerdiness. Growing up in the middle of nowhere in northern Alberta, she sated her nerdy side by reading books, pretending to be Nancy Drew, and constantly questioning pretty much everyone. Learning was highly valued in Linden’s family, so there is little surprise that her nerdiness grew to center on how it happens. She has done a lot of schooling related to this — both Bachelor and Master of Education degrees, with the latter focused on fostering student metacognition — as well as worked in a variety of education-based jobs. These days, Linden is a learning advisor at NAIT where she tries to sneak metacognitive awareness into everything she does. Since finishing that M.Ed., she is rediscovering free time which has centered on comics, video games, far too many podcasts, learning to be a D&D Dungeon Master, and books that she wants to read just because she does.

Nerd Nite 53: The evolution of online communities, poo, and street names!

Before the holiday times set in, join a room full of your fellow nerds with a thirst for knowledge (and beer!). We’ve lined up three interesting—maybe even unusual—topics, and three outstanding speakers!

Learn from them! Ask them questions! Kick back and enjoy an evening of fun. It’s like Christmas come early!

Science demo starts at 7:30pm. Trivia starts at 7:45pm. Main show kicks off at 8pm.

When: Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Where: Backstage Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance (plus fees + GST)
No minors.

Get your tickets NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

Ch-ch-changes: Lives Online, Then and Now
Eric Forcier

This is the story of Sleepless Whispers, a community of Ender’s Game fans and young writers that formed in the late ’90s. It is the story of #FakeWesteros, a present-day community of live-tweeting and role-playing Game of Thrones fans. One became the site of a virtual coming-of-age in the wild digital landscape of web forums pre-Web 2.0. The other faces an existential crisis as HBO’s Game of Thrones ends, living online in tweets. While exploring the technological and social changes that have taken place in the last 20 years, I will share with you one aspect of online community that remains the same. [Disclaimer: While David Bowie fandom would make for a super fascinating nerd nite talk, he sadly doesn’t feature in this one. Sorry!

I love science-fiction and fantasy. I am a fan. But I’m also a fan of fans: I think fans can teach us a lot about how entertainment, media technologies and information are profoundly intertwingled in contemporary life. That’s why, as a researcher, I study fandom. I am a PhD candidate and member of the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. My research explores the information-related activities of transmedia fans in postdigital everyday life. I hold advanced degrees in library and information studies and humanities computing, which isn’t as great an icebreaker at parties as you might think.

What’s in a name? Wait, for real though, how do Edmonton streets get their names?
Alyssa Lefebvre and Erin McDonald

Ever drive down a street and wonder how it got its name? Who came up with that? And what does it signify? Well, we have some answers. The Edmonton Naming Committee, with help from City of Edmonton Development Services, is responsible for approving official names around Edmonton. Still confused about what that really means and how it happens? Alyssa Lefebvre and Erin McDonald, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Edmonton Naming Committee, will reveal what goes on with the Committee, recent initiatives, and the process used to name City facilities including streets, parks, buildings, funiculars, lookouts, neighbourhoods, and more! While we can’t promise to know where all the names around the City came from and who or what they represent (versions of the Committee have been around since 1956, and we aren’t that old) we will focus on how historical and cultural recognition and transportation planning are important aspects in selecting future names around our City.

Born and raised in the Edmonton area, Alyssa watched Edmonton grow and has always been eager to be a part of the City’s future. Growing up in a family of engineers she was destined for the nerdy life of math, science, and problem-solving. Most of her days consisted of learning how things work, building anything and everything with her Dad, and coming up with ways to make life easier around the house. After graduating from the University of Calgary with a degree in Civil Engineering, Alyssa returned to Edmonton to begin her career as a transportation engineer. Being an avid cyclist and bicycle commuter, Alyssa’s passion for transportation planning and engineering grew into developing transportation networks that integrate all modes of travel in a safe, efficient, and sustainable manner. Her curiosity for learning about Edmonton’s civic process led her to apply to the Edmonton Naming Committee and contribute her transportation planning knowledge to the Naming Committee. Now in her third year, Alyssa currently sits as the Committee’s chair.

Erin has been curious since she was young: while digging for dinosaur bones in the ravine behind her childhood home in Toronto, she instead stumbled upon the remnants of 13 post-war era cottages the community of Highland Creek, washed-out entirely by Hurricane Hazel in October 1954. Childhood visits to many museums, a steady stream of war documentaries and decades of issues of National Geographic at home resulted in a bona fide history nerd. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in English, History and Classical Studies, Erin pursued an advanced degree in Museum Studies, resulting in an internship that brought her to Alberta in 2005 as a graduate student. Ultimately deciding to make Edmonton her home in 2011, she was drawn here by the heritage, culture, and many layers of history in the River Valley. As a sitting past-Chair of the Edmonton Historical Board, Erin was appointed to the Naming Committee. An advocate for unpacking both the celebrations and challenges of historical narratives and the Committee’s vice-chair, Erin currently is in her fourth year as a member.

An Interesting Thing Your Poo Can Do
Chelsea McDougall

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more prevalent and Clostridium difficile is one of them. People in hospitals or taking multiple antibiotics are the most susceptible to infections and recurrence. The standard treatment for many years has been more antibiotics but a lot of the time this doesn’t prevent recurrence. That’s where Fecal transplant (FMT) comes in. After this presentation I hope you leave informed, a bit grossed out and maybe wanting to help patients with C. diff.

Growing up, I wanted to be like Scully from X-Files which made me interested in pursuing a career in science and have been in the field since 2002. In 2017, I was approached and asked if I would like to work for the Fecal Transplant (FMT) group at the U of A. I didn’t think I could handle working with the “product.” As it turns out, I got over it fairly quickly and have been the lab manager ever since. When I am not nerding out on science, I like to nerd out on pop culture, pinball, comics and strange vinyl toys (i.e. Bacon smoking a cigarette).

Nerd Nite #52: Gamification, Bankruptcy Law, and Healthy Living

As we watch the world crumble before our very eyes, we have to remember how important it is to keep on learning. That’s what Nerd Nite is all about, and #52 is no different. Learn about some subjects familiar to you… and maybe even some you never thought you’d be interested in. Above all: be there AND be square, delightful nerds!

Science demo starts at 7:30pm. Trivia starts at 7:45pm. Main show kicks off at 8pm.

When: Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance (plus fees + GST)
No minors.

Get your tickets now!

Our line-up of talks includes:

Gamification, Education, Motivation, Oh My!
Scott Hebert

Children, and adults for that matter, have never been more engaged by games than they are now. Why is that though? What draws people so deeply into games? What brings them back and what drives them to keep trying to improve in the face of great adversity? In an education system designed where students start with 100% and lose as they go, “Gamification” flips this concept on its head focusing on the individual’s progression while increasing both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation exponentially. Scott has successfully turned his Grade 8 science course into a live-action role-playing game. You will walk out of this session inspired and driven to make changes to your teaching. Will you press start?

I am a passionate and dedicated teacher who currently teaches Grade 8 Sciences, and has done so for the past 10 years. My professional motto is “Would you want to be in your classroom?” and it is reflected in my daily teaching. I believe in innovation in the classroom where I am constantly challenging myself to put new practices into play—especially the concept of “Gamification”. I’m a big video game nerd and I bring my love of video games and their mechanics into my classroom and classrooms around the world. School can be incredibly boring I’m here to change that s*it up!

Pensions, the environment and an extended metaphor about carrot cake: a primer on corporate bankruptcy law
Anna Lund

Whether it’s pensions, the environment or an upcoming holiday, corporate bankruptcies can affect many aspects of your everyday life. Yet, if you’re like most Canadians, you’ve probably never given much thought to corporate bankruptcy law. Until now! After this presentation, you’ll understand how corporate bankruptcy law can impact your life because it decides who gets paid when there isn’t enough money to go around. And you’ll appreciate why it’s important for everyday Canadians to have a say in how bankruptcy law works.

I am an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta. I practiced law in Edmonton for a few years before I went to graduate school at UC Berkeley (Masters in law) and the University of British Columbia (PhD in law). I have a book coming out this November on bankruptcy law. In my spare time, I practice law at the Edmonton Community Legal Centre, which serves low-income Edmontonians, and I read books (some of them are about lawyers). I really like the law.

Change Health
Doug Klein

What if healthcare actually promoted or protected health? Rather than a healthcare system we have an excellent and expensive disease-care system. It is time for CHANGE.
Many Canadians are leading unhealthy lives. Whether this is because our busy lifestyles require more time sitting in cars and in front of screens, or a lack of knowledge about how to purchase and prepare healthy foods, the situation is serious. Despite abundant evidence for lifestyle interventions and support, we still focus on treating disease after it happens.

CHANGE Health is dedicated to ensuring that all children and families have opportunities to build critical life skills that promote health. These include meal preparation, physical activity, mental wellbeing and positive social connections. Focusing on families CHANGE Health works with several community partners to deliver unique programming that encourages families to work together, build skills for life, connect with nature and most importantly have fun. Our ambition is to develop CHANGE Health as a community solution to some of society’s most pressing problems, that can be scaled across Canada and exported around the world to help address the global physical and mental health crisis.

Born and raised in Regina Saskatchewan, Dr. Klein completed his Medical School training in Ottawa in 1998 and his Residency training in Family Medicine at the University of Alberta in 2000. He completed his Masters in public Health Sciences in 2004. He is a Full Professor in the Department of Family medicine and Director of the CHANGE Alberta Research Team. Dr. Klein’s practice interests include nutrition, physical activity, health promotion and community engagement. Dr. Klein is passionate about health promotion and the health benefits of nature, he can often be found outdoors with his wife and three children.