7 Nov 2014

Science fairs and competitions: Young scientists lead the way

By Marie Powell

In 2010, 14-year-old Rui Song discovered the molecular markers for two fungi killing lentil crops in Canada, Bangladesh, Syria, and Ethiopia.

In 2011, 16-year-old Marshall Zhang made the groundbreaking discovery of a drug cocktail to help treat cystic fibrosis, a disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. The following year, 16-year-old Janelle Tam became the first to show the antioxidant properties of wood pulp. And in 2013, Arjun Nair developed an experimental cancer therapy using gold nano-particles.

Photo by Stilfehler (Creative Commons)
These ground-breaking discoveries began as projects for the national Sanofi Biogenius Canada competition. Science and math are known to be subjects where young minds can lead the way. Science fairs across the country help Canadian students explore science concepts in a hands-on participatory way, and share results in a display or report.

There's even a virtual science fair that posts reports and projects online. Many science fairs offer prizes and accolades for the winners, as well as an opportunity to advance new ideas in all fields of science.

The Google Science Fair also has a Canadian competition resulting in significant breakthroughs, such as 18-year-old Hayley Todesco's sand-and-bacteria filters for cleaning up toxic waste. The Google competition is open to anyone 13 to 18, and offers a variety of prizes.

The Sanofi Biogenius Canada competition offers high school and CEGEP students from across the country an opportunity to submit biotechnology projects for consideration. Those chosen work with mentors who are experts in their fields to develop these projects for regional and then national competitions.

For example, in 2014 students submitted more than 200 biotechnology projects, proposing research in such fields as diabetes, stress management, Alzheimer's research, pulp production, and chromosome research. The 15-year-old national winner Nicole Ticea developed an innovative test for diagnosing HIV in newborns.

For more information on these competitions and projects, try the following links:

Sanofi Biogenius Canada: http://biogenius.ca
Articles: "Calgary student takes prize for 'nano-bullet' cancer research," CBC, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-student-takes-prize-for-nanobullet-cancer-research-1.1369403; "British Columbia student's new method for diagnosing HIV in Newborns...," Market Wired, http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/british-columbia-students-new-method-diagnosing-hiv-newborns-wins-sanofi-biogeneius-1915010.htm

Canada-wide 2015 Virtual Science Fair: http://www.virtualsciencefair.com

Science Fair Project Ideas: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas.shtml

Google Science Fair: https://www.googlesciencefair.com/en/
Article: "Calgary's Hayley Todesco wins Canadian Google Science Fair," CBC, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/calgary-s-hayley-todesco-wins-canadian-google-science-fair-prize-1.2704257

No comments: