Science Literacy Week 2017 - Meet Jesse Hildebrand!

September 12, 2017 | Diana L.

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From September 18 to 24, libraries, academic institutions, and organisations across the nation will celebrate Science Literacy Week, a celebration of science-based activities highlighting outstanding scientists and science communicators from coast-to-coast!

Science Literacy WeekToronto Public Library has participated in this fun event since 2014, and this year, over 44 free, science-related programs will take place across the city. 

To help celebrate Science Literacy Week, Dr. Victoria Arbour, evolutionary biologist and vertebrate palaeontologist from the Royal Ontario Museum will share her latest find - a brand new dinosaur named Zuul crurivastator, the destroyer of shins! 

Victoria ArbourZuul was an armoured dinosaur with a tail club, and its skeleton is one of the best of its kind ever discovered. He is named after a fictional monster from the 1984 film Ghostbusters.

You can meet Zuul and Dr. Victoria Arbour at two locations:

  • Yorkville Branch - Thursday September 21, 6:30-7:30 pm
  • S. Walter Stewart Branch - Friday September 22, 7-8 pm*

*The event at S. Walter Stewart Branch will be live-streamed using telepresence technology to two other locations - Cedarbrae Branch and York Woods Branch! The program starts at 6:45 pm at these locations for pre-program activities. 

To get you (even more) excited about Science Literacy Week, I caught up with Jesse Hildebrand, the founder of Science Literacy Week for a little interview:

Jesse Hildebrand

What inspired you to launch Science Literacy Week? 

I had always grown up surrounded by great science communicators. Steve Irwin posters lined my wall, and David Attenborough and Carl Sagan books filled my shelves. The idea that you could make a career out of sharing the wonders of the world and cosmos with people is every bit as magical to me today as it was when I was a kid.  Science Literacy Week started the day after I finished university - I suppose I'd been waiting to get it done so I could shout from the rooftops just how cool science was. Given my love of the libraries, it started simply by asking if they would showcase their science collections - my way of starting to shout from the rooftops -  and it snowballed from there!

What are your top science books? 

I have the great pleasure of reading a lot of science books, and a lot of books generally throughout the year. The idea that you can go back in time and gain insight from the best thinkers throughout all of history is a marvel. The best science books in my mind are ones that anyone could pick up and enjoy - page turners that happen to be non-fiction.  With that in mind, my favourites are:  
What has been your most memorable or all-time favourite Science Literacy Week program?
With over 1,000 programs and activities since its inception, it's hard to narrow down. But I suppose that the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at U of T's "From Euclid to Einstein" science book showcase is my favourite. In it, you get the chance to touch and flip the pages of the first edition iconic science books from seminal figures in science history. I got to hold the Origin of Species, one of the original 1250 copies!
Jesse Hildebrand with Origin of Species
The event is back this year on the 21st of September too!
What are you looking forward to for #SciLit17?
The size of it! So many new groups are involved, so many new big groups and science centres are involved, and it looks to reach so much more people than ever. How thrilling it's been to hear from kids and adults across Canada how much they've enjoyed events and learned from them - so whenever the week rolls around I get excited for that sort of feedback again!
What do you envision for the future of Science Literacy Week? 

I'd like it to become something where science groups aim to coincide their efforts with the week. If we can get science book awards, science festivals and more partners to highlight their great work during SLW, we can have an even bigger impact and make this truly a science celebration to be proud of on a global scale. Whatever we do, I'm hoping it will inspire more people to value the great science outreach in the country (and it truly is great) and to learn more themselves. Science Literacy Week is meant more than anything to help showcase to people just how much stuff is out there and to go explore on their own the wonderful world of science.

Thank you, Jesse! 


A highlight of Science Literacy Week programs at Toronto Public Library include:

And if you're looking for more science-related programs after Science Literacy Week at Toronto Public Library, check out:  

  • From September to December, the Our Fragile Planet program series offers programs about our environment including topics on climate change, ecosystems, gene-editing, and more!
  • From September to December, The Cutting Edge program series explores new ideas at the intersection of health and technology with presentations on artificial intelligence, digital technology in healthcare, experts on neuroscience, and more!
  • In October, professors from York University's Faculty of Science will talk about how to get to Mars, living organisms in space and more astronomy-related topics as part of the Chronicles of a Peculiar Universe is a series.
  • Throughout the year, look for Pop-Up Learning Labs, featuring new and emerging technology at your local branch! 


For more information about Science Literacy Week and other program and events, visit