Young scientists shine at Pender science fair


The gym at Pender Islands School was packed last Wednesday afternoon, as students, teachers, and community members checked out the latest innovations and offerings from a batch of young scientists.

Thirty-two judges from the community and 16 student judges evaluated the Pender Island Science Fair projects, which ranged from a papier-mâché volcano to a look at how to remove excess oil from soil using different kinds of fungus.

“Some of the students have been working on these projects since last summer, and some started yesterday,” said Pender science teacher Steve Dunsmuir. “We added a high school class this year, so they’re featured. And then the primary kids wanted to get involved too. It’s fun for the kids and the judges.”

Fifteen of the students will be attending the regional science fair in Victoria, and Dunsmuir hopes some would have the potential to reach the national stage. Last year, the school won 18 awards at regionals and was able to send Grade 8 student Lauren Ohnona to the national finals. This year, Dunsmuir would like to see a couple of students attend the national competition.

“These are the ones who are going to hopefully change things in the future.”

Science fair projects included a look at microplastics in earthworms, a study of how different kinds of mud can transmit electricity, and what kinds of recycled materials make the best disc golf discs.

“There’s one on carbon pollution where they’re trying to seed the ocean with carbon that has been captured from the atmosphere. They’re lowering the carbon in the atmosphere, but they’re also bringing up the carbon in the ocean so the coral reef won’t get eaten away. I think that’s pretty cool,” he said. “There’s another one on micro-remediation where they’re using fungus to remove oil from the soil. There’s a lot of them.”

This year, Dunsmuir wanted to get more of the community involved. The school invited 50 per cent more community judges this year than in the past. Projects were judged over three rounds by the designated judges. A fourth round of judging was held by the general public to help break ties.

The top three winning scientists from five divisions will advance to the regional finals in Victoria. Students were divided into age groups: primary, elementary, intermediate, junior and senior.

The regional finals will be held at the University of Victoria on April 7 and 8.

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