TELUS Spark Calgary's Science Centre

2015 Annual Report

Calgary Science Centre and Creative Kids Museum Society

For TELUS Spark, 2015 was a year of highlights. In particular:

  • 8% increase in attendance, despite the tough economy
  • Opened another acre of play in The Brainasium, new exhibits in the Energy & Innovation gallery and a wildly popular traveling exhibition, Dinosaurs in Motion
  • Sustained the reach of our curriculum-linked school programs and deepened our impact via SHIFT Lab teacher training
  • Launched Spark School for Innovation by Design, a professional development program for mid-career professionals
  • 100% increase in access visits by disadvantaged Calgarians via our social sector partners

Want to learn and know more? Watch the following brief video featuring Jennifer Martin, President & CEO and click the highlight sections below.

2015 Play Highlights

1. Opened the next phase of The Brainasium

2. Took risky play to a new level in summer camps

3. Hosted researchers from Mount Royal University to study play

Looking Ahead

1. International Play Association Conference coming to Calgary in 2017

2. Continuing to develop great local partnerships

3. Premiering a new daily play experience in the Atrium


By: Katherine Ziff, VP, Content, TELUS Spark

Experts ranging from neuroscientists to perceptive parents are agreeing on the importance of play for developing brains. The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada notes, “the benefit of play are recognized by the scientific community. There is now evidence that the neural pathways in children’s brains are influenced and advanced in their development through exploration, thinking skills, problem-solving, and language expression that occur during play.” (CMEC Statement on Play-Based Learning).

At TELUS Spark we find ways to play every day, and 2015 was a banner year for play and learning here. We opened phase two of The Brainasium, our year-round outdoor adventure park, adding sky-high swings and even more climbing challenges. We took risky play to a new level in our summer camps by bringing back classic play experiences that children may not get to experience these days, like roasting marshmallows over a campfire. And we hosted researchers from Mount Royal University who studied how children and adults play in The Brainasium (our levels of “vigorous play” are off the charts).

And we’ve got more exciting opportunities for play and learning on the horizon. We’re part of a coalition of local organizations collaborating with the City of Calgary to host the International Play Association conference in 2017, which will put the spotlight on play in Calgary for all of the world to see. These partnerships will foster greater opportunities for play collaborations across the city. Finally, we will bring our play and learning expertise indoors, with a new daily opportunity for play in the Atrium premiering in 2017.

2015 Innovation Highlights

1. Launched the first cohort of Spark School for Innovation by Design (SSID) in partnership with the Innographer

2. Refined the Play, Learning and Innovation pillars to engage our community in critical issues of Energy Sustainability

3. Expanded these pillars in our work with educators, via SHIFT Lab teacher training

Looking Ahead

1. Increase the number of cohorts of SSID and continue to refine this executive-style offering

2. Expand Energy Sustainability programs and exhibits, reaching and engaging more of our community in a deeper dialogue

3. Identify other opportunities to grow "family innovation capital" as both a site for families and a site that embraces innovation culture, via long-range strategic planning


By: Jennifer Martin, CEO, TELUS Spark

The Canadian innovation ecosystem is already strong and healthy, if, however, rather dissatisfying. As noted by Dan Breznitz of the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto, Canada’s public spending on business innovation as a percentage of GDP is higher than Finland, Israel and Germany. Over the past two decades our ability to invent is up from “good” to “excellent” indicating strength in ideas and application, yet we seriously lack in commercialization. And the evidence of global impact from our national innovation capacity is clear, but perhaps too much of that is from Canadians now living in the United States.

There is a false narrative of cultural inferiority in Canada; that we are too comfortable or complacent to be strong innovators. This is tempered by many policy-related calls to action, which tend to focus on treating the symptoms rather than the “disease”.

Breznitz suggests that we need to strengthen the Canadian “agents” of innovation – the companies and the people who actually do innovate.

What does innovation look like? How does it feel? How do we support it? Why is it valuable? And, what might families have to do with national innovation?

TELUS Spark believes that the attitudes, skills and behaviours to be innovative – solving problems, generating and communicating ideas, working collaboratively with others, and taking risks/accepting and learning from failure – can be learned. This skill development is at the heart of our 21st century science centre.

Innovation fluency in our culture, our schools, and our businesses can change our collective prosperity. Fluency, not merely literacy, ensures the ability to experiment, practice and build the skills and patterns of mind to innovate. Practical talent-fostering approaches have been developed and are being provided by TELUS Spark to mid-career professionals and families.

Equally important to fluency is the “family innovation capital” – the family understanding of, and relationship to, science, technology and innovation – that can shape the likelihood of how children see potential careers in these areas as desirable and attainable. The extent to which we value, encourage and foster innovation in our families, and of which science is woven into the everyday life of our families has a measurable and significant impact on our community for generations to come.

Fostering “innovation capital” in our national culture and our national identity is possible.

2015 Learning Highlights

1. Developed two math and dance programs, expanding on our “M” in STEAM offerings

2. Offered exciting day camps on school professional development days

3. Welcomed a new cohort of 40 educators to our year-long SHIFT Lab program

BONUS: We held two semesters of our Prototype Project which engaged hundreds of Jr. and Sr. High school students

Looking Ahead

1. Expand customized team-based professional development for educators

2. Expand our awareness and practice to better meet the needs of First Nations students

3. Deliver new outdoor programs to take advantage of our 6-acre park

BONUS: Expand our Direct From programming


By: Diane Greenwood, Director, Education, TELUS Spark

TELUS Spark offers unique programs designed to foster experimentation, observation and collaborative learning for students, educators, and families. In 2015, over 71,000 students participated in our school programs and were encouraged to think differently by challenging themselves to learn in new ways. Our 40 curriculum-linked school programs focus on developing skills that are crucial for the growth of all students as they move into the future.

In response to a growing conversation about declining math scores, TELUS Spark collaborated with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks to teach math concepts through movement. Our two new programs have been enjoyed by elementary students in record numbers and it is truly amazing to see a whole class creatively immersed exploring concepts like reflections, translations or fractions.

The educators of SHIFT Lab cohort 2 have been working to offer innovative classroom experiences and push their teaching practice to new levels. We saw collaboration across school districts and grades that will have positive outcomes for students in Alberta. The programs that have been developed for SHIFT Lab are also proving beneficial within our training and staff development initiatives. We continue to push our own practice to stay fresh and innovative with the programs we offer.

With proven success in our school programs, we can now take a deeper look at how to better meet the needs of the community. All levels of government and school boards have highlighted a need for an increased focus on the learning of First Nations students. We are in a position to help by providing an informal learning space that could support the learning needs of this community. We will begin with extensive consultation with the first nation’s communities and by building partnerships with stakeholders.

TELUS Spark has courage to ask difficult and complex questions and to tackle controversial topics. Our educational programming is building on timely topics of environmental stewardship and energy sustainability. We can offer students the opportunity to explore real life challenges and find innovative paths forward.

“SHIFT Lab has given me an example and model of what is possible in the classroom. It has provided inspiration and direction for my own school and what 21st century learning should look like. SHIFT Lab has encouraged me to develop a more robust process of reflecting upon my own practices and those implemented in a school. If you want students to be excited about learning and engaged in the classroom, SHIFT Lab is providing some of the answers.”

-Clayton Roe, Principal, Holden School (Battle River School Division)

2015 Community Highlights

1. Consistently high ratings from visitors, for both the experience itself and the perceived value

2. Deepening partnerships with community organizations, numbering in the hundreds

3. Doubled access visits via Community Connections Program

Looking Ahead

1. Expand market insights to enable sound decision-making

2. Build on Energy Sustainability initiative as a convenor of programs and exhibits

3. Prepare to mark the 50th anniversary of TELUS Spark and 150th anniversary of Canada in 2017


By: Alison Pidskalny, VP, External Affairs, TELUS Spark

When TELUS Spark opened in 2011, we were Canada's first purpose-built science centre 25 years. TELUS Spark's operations began to see stability in 2015, in particular among our visitors and their experience and expectations. Our visitors come to TELUS Spark expecting a fun family outing and the opportunity to learn and play together. The overwhelming majority of visitors indicate high satisfaction with their visit, which is an important Community indicator for TELUS Spark.

We also welcomed a substantial number of visitors via our Community Connections Program, Cultural Access Pass and Spark Learning Connections. Community Connections has grown to a program engaging 40 social services agencies representing the full spectrum of social needs, from disability, addiction, homelessness, hunger, mental health and new Canadians. Free visits by clients of these partner agencies grew by 90% in 2015 over 2014. Our participation in the Cultural Access Pass program was also key, serving our newest Canadians with access to TELUS Spark. We also initiated a new program, with support from HSBC, called Spark Learning Connections. Launched in September, it provides subsidized school programs, bussing and healthy snacks for high-needs schools.

As we look ahead, preparations for our 50th anniversary were initiated late in 2015 from origins in the Centennial Planetarium. The anniversary, aligned with the sesquicentennial of Canada, will be an important opportunity for TELUS Spark to thank the community, our visitors, members, partners and supporters, and engage them in the future vision for our organization.

2015 Financial Statements

Thank you to our generous supporters!

    • Visionary: $1M+

      Canadian Natural Resources Limited
      Crescent Point Energy
      Devon Canada Corporation
      Enbridge Inc.
      MEG Energy
      Nexen Energy ULC
      NOVA Chemicals
      Lightstream Resources Ltd. / Petrobank Energy & Resources Ltd.
      Progress Energy Canada Ltd.
      Suncor Energy Foundation

    • Champion: $250K-$999.9K

      APEGA - The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
      ConocoPhillips Canada
      Walt & Irene Deboni
      Imperial Oil Foundation
      Penn West
      TD Bank Group
      Werklund Foundation

    • Leader: $100K to $249.9K

      Chevron Canada Resources
      Cisco Systems Canada Ltd
      Country 105, Q107 and QR77
      Dick & Lois Haskayne Fund at the Calgary Foundation
      FirstEnergy Capital Corp.
      Global Calgary
      Husky Energy
      JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group
      The Kahanoff Foundation
      PATTISON Outdoor Advertising
      RGO Office Products
      The Saxberg Family
      W. L. Buchanan Family
      Western Economic Diversification

    • Innovator: $25K to $99.9K

      ARC Resources Ltd.
      Bennett Jones LLP
      The Calgary Herald
      Alan R. Collyer
      Deloitte & Touche Foundation Canada
      Art & Bonnie Dumont
      The Fitzpatrick Family
      Friends of the Calgary Science Centre
      Gibson Energy
      Martin & Christina Kratz
      Melcor Developments
      Peter & Lorraine Moore & Family
      Mosaic Studios
      Brent Poohkay
      Christine Poohkay
      Karen & Ryan Shay
      Sousa Family
      Harley L. Winger

    • Builder: $5K to $24.9K

      Brent & Laura Allison
      Cameron Bailey & Gelaine Pearman
      Tony Balasubramanian
      Julie Bowen & Ian Brunskill
      Burstall Winger LLP
      Care Factor Computer Services
      ESRI Canada
      Mary & Chris Fong
      GMP Securities LP
      Thomas Gosse
      Dr. Francis Hartman
      Jan & Mark Herman
      Duncan & Judy Kent
      Cindy LaValley & Carter Bond
      Beverly MacLeod Family Fund at The Calgary Foundation
      Jeff & Susan Mackey
      Jennifer Martin & Linda Heimlich
      McDaniel & Associates Consultants Ltd.
      McKinsey & Company
      Julia Pasieka & William Pasieka
      Peters & Co.
      Dr. Gayla Rogers & Brian Rogers QC
      S.I. Systems
      Al & Gisele Schreiner
      Dr. WA Sam & Claudia Shaw
      Spectrum Marketing Canada Corporation
      The TAO Foundation
      Georgine Ulmer & Glen Moyer
      Urban Venus Nail Bar
      Linda & Gord Vogt
      Philip Welch

    • Friend $1K to $4.9K

      Alloy Dining Ltd.
      Alba Apuzzo & Lazzaro Mautone
      Grant Arnold
      Gabriela Ascencio de Myers
      Robert & Ellen Austin
      Ian D. Bruce
      Roseann Caldwell
      Chinook Energy Inc.
      Dennis & Grace Cheng
      Bill & Diane Chomik
      Eric & Gayle Clavelle
      David & Donalda Cormier
      Barry Crean & Joanne Ho
      Darcy & Kary Cuthill
      Megan Douglas
      Ken & Jillian Faulkner
      Art & Shirley Froehlich
      Rodney D. Gray
      Lloyd H. Godfrey
      Jacob & Reed Grelowski
      Don & Maureen Henderson
      The Hurley Family
      Imperial Group
      Ron, Kim, Kris & Kyler Kelly
      Dr. Don Kjosness
      Debra Klippenstein
      Michael & Jennifer Koury
      Philip & Lyndsey Krepela
      John & Laura Krill
      Natalie & Jeffery Lawson
      Stephen & Mary Lougheed
      Bruce & Susan Madu
      M. Ann McCaig
      Michelle & Toby McKenna
      Iris Meck
      Bill Mooney
      N-Force Crane & Equipment Ltd.
      Alison Pidskalny & Douglas Robertson
      Cameron Plewes
      Christopher Potter
      Karen & Jim Prentice
      Karen Radford & Jason Grelowski
      Beth Riley
      Judith M. Romanchuk
      Sheila M. Shaw
      Sinopec Daylight Energy Limited
      Scott R. Smith
      Hugh & Rhonda Stowell
      Lynn Sutherland, Brett & Barry Martin
      Brad Struble & Cheri Sydor
      Synergy Land Services
      TransCanada Corporation
      Kathryn Vincent & Simon Bent
      Blair Ward
      The Ralph & Gay Young Family Fund

    • Supporter: up to $1K

      1287827 Alberta Inc.
      Brittany Ahmad
      Kristal Allen
      Emil Altier
      Association of Fundraising Professionals Calgary & Area
      Gloria Brehm
      Candice Campbell-Behm - Miss Calgary, Canada 2012
      Nicole Bonsall
      The Boyd Family
      Karen Brimacombe
      Catherine & Allan Brown
      Megan Bufton
      Joan & David Carson
      Steve & Michelle Caswell
      Donald & Barbara Christensen
      Paul & Bernice Clark
      Christine Colbert
      Dr. Marlee & John Cossar Family
      Lisa Crosby
      Robert & Loren Currie
      In loving memory of Jenub & Joosub Da Da
      Jason Demers & June Fong
      Edamame Kids Inc.
      Renee Fagnou
      Helen C. Fitzpatrick
      Gord Franson
      Brian & Lori Fyke
      Caroline Gill
      GlobeScan Incorporated
      Lidia Gonzalez
      Elizabeth Gourlie
      Barbara Hale
      Mel Hamilton
      Nancy & John Henderson
      Tina Ho-Chung-Qui
      Christine Hohendorf
      Kathy Holland
      Leonore J. Hunt
      Spencer Hunt
      The Jackson Family
      George Jacob
      Jobe Family
      Michael & Debra Kerr
      Doug & Hayley Kirker
      Danielle Kondla
      D, J, S Lake
      Dr. Cooper Langford
      Tanya Leavy
      Michelle Lennox
      Ryan Lorenz
      Cynthia Loria
      Carmen & Micheal Ly
      John Madgett
      Jennifer & Steve Major
      Christine A. Manion
      Kristin Marquardt
      Lisa Martens
      Robin Masciangelo
      Shawn Mesiatowsky
      Janice Miller
      N. Deo Mishra
      Danielle Meyers
      Godfrey & Diane Nowlan
      One Design Inc.
      In Memory of Edward James Peacock
      Michelle Podavin
      Poissant-Burroughs Family
      Bruce & Sylvia Pultz
      The Russell Family
      Wendie Ryder
      D. S. Samcoe
      Dr. Kyo Sato
      Benjamin Shaw & Tiffany Stone
      Bill & Carol Smith
      Marc J. Stachiw & Family
      Ashley Stappler
      Greg Stein
      Lionel Strasky
      TeamThink Inc.
      Darrel Thiessen
      David & Lia Thompson
      Marg Thorson
      Tara Tripp
      Cary Turner
      Barry & Corinne Wasyliw
      Gordon & Helen Wells
      for Mike West
      White Oak Associates Inc.
      Mary-Jane Whittaker
      Robert Willcox
      Carolyn Wilton

    • 2015 Annual Donors

      Alberta Goverment
      Alex and Elinor Bolton
      Alison Duff
      Anonymous (2)
      Anthony Cook
      APEGA -The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists
      Ardis Branch
      Ben Thomas
      Benevity Community Impact Fund
      Bev Swan
      Bill Tribe
      Brad Struble & Family
      Brenda Barootes
      Brent Poohkay
      Christine Poohkay
      Brian Phelps
      Cameron E. Plewes
      Carl Van Veen
      Carol Gilchrist
      Caryn Knievel
      Cenovus Employee Foundation
      CGG Services (Canada) Inc.
      Chelsea Reid
      Chevron Canada Resources
      Christina Ciampanelli
      Coca Cola Refreshments Canada Company
      Cody McLean
      Darko Aleksic
      Devon Hamilton
      Dr. Donna Wood
      Duane Imambaksh
      Francois Fedorus
      Linda & Gord Vogt
      Graeme Greenlee
      Haley Besenski
      Harold Oga
      Ronald & Heather Mueller & Family
      Helen Sermeno
      McLean Family
      HSBC Bank
      Inland Pipe, a Division of Lehigh Hanson Materials Ltd.
      Walt & Irene DeBoni
      Jacqueline Lauritsen
      Jennifer Joo
      Joan Mackenzie
      Judith R. eckstein
      Karen Nixon
      Kurtis Hudson
      Dr. Kyosaku Sato
      Lauren Jans
      Lee Clark
      Lightstream Resources Ltd.
      Lisa Irwin
      Lorraine Moore
      Louis Grondin
      Mary Schumann
      Michael Koury
      Mike Butcher
      Norton Rose Fulbright LLP
      Patricia Moroto
      Penny Birkholz
      RBC Foundation
      Robert & Ellen Austin
      Robin Wynd
      Sousa Family
      Ryan Carnahan
      Samuel Family
      Sheila Leggett
      Shirley Glen
      Suncor Energy Inc
      Susyn Wagner
      Tanya Resch
      TD Bank Group
      Thelma Shulyk
      Tyler Rolheiser
      Walter Rodriguez
      Wendie Ryder
      W. L. Buchanan Family
      Worley Parsons
      Yvonne Martin-Morrison