Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Local student earns medal at science fair

Hanna LeDrew hadn’t expected to bring home a medal from the Canada-Wide Science Fair held in Windsor earlier this month.
“It took a minute to realize they called my name,” admitted the Grade 8 student from J.W. Walker School.

With her project entitled “Catch of the Day,” LeDrew was one of 40 youths who earned a bronze medal—an “Excellence Award” in the junior division.
She also received $100 and a certificate.
“It was pretty exciting,” LeDrew enthused.
While her classmates, Byron Stewart and Graham Anderson, didn’t receive a medal for their “A Smarter Case” project, just being chosen to participate in the Canada-Wide Science Fair is an incredible feat.
“There are some very smart kids at this event,” noted Stewart’s mom, Nancy Westover, who chaperoned the students.
She said the top project there offered a new approach to limb donor identification and prosthetic design.
Westover also noted they were told that the 463 participants—ranging from Grade 7-12—are in the top one percent in the country.
“So they should be very proud of themselves,” she stressed.
LeDrew’s project idea came to her because her whole family fishes.
“I made a fishing rod that weighs the fish before it’s out of the water,” she explained.
She placed a spring scale at the bottom of the rod and had a wire attached so that when the fish pulls on the wire, it activates the scale and the weight is recorded.
Stewart and Anderson, meanwhile, built a smartphone case that blocks electromagnetic radiation.
“We read reports about how smartphones have a higher probability of causing cancer,” Stewart noted.
“So we wanted to make an impact on that.”
Anderson said they used aluminum sheeting and aluminum foil to make the case because it blocks electromagnetic radiation.
For all three students, it was their first experience at the Canada-Wide Science Fair.
“It was really amazing,” enthused Stewart. “You got to see how different the world is and what the world has to offer.
“What other kids are doing and the levels they are pushing for,” he added.
“It was amazing to see all the kids, all the ideas, and how they presented them,” echoed Westover.
While attending the event, the local students had a chance to explore Point Pelee and Fort Malden, as well as participate in various workshops and group activities, which included being challenged to build robots and bridges.
Anderson said the highlight for him was the awards ceremony.
“It highlighted all the amazing projects,” he noted.
LeDrew, meanwhile, said she liked seeing the other projects and also getting to know people from other parts of the country.
“We met a lot of people,” she remarked.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” agreed Stewart. “It was a very busy week.”
J.W. Walker teacher Jody Bonner-Vickers was pleased with the success of the students at the national level, especially since it’s the second time in the last three years a local student has brought home a medal.
Cameron Lidkea earned a bronze medal “Award of Excellence” for Grade 7/8 students for his science project, “Striking Difference,” in 2012.
“I’m very proud of the students,” Bonner-Vickers said, noting they are competing at a very high level.
She also said the Sunset Country region is different from many of the other areas in the country when it comes to the science fair because locally, it is the Rainy River District School Board that provides the majority of the support.
In other parts of Canada, the regional science fairs are sponsored by companies or organizations, and they do plenty of fundraising to support their projects and the students who travel to the national science fair.
“And they start thinking about their projects right away,” Westover noted.
“They are really invested in getting to the national level.”
Bonner-Vickers admitted she isn’t sure what the future holds for the science fair locally.
But LeDrew, Stewart, and Anderson all said it was a great opportunity and furthered their interest in science.

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