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By Anna Sarkissian
Bright and early Monday morning they were already at their posts, wearing matching grey t-shirts over their uniforms, hair neatly combed, fear in their eyes.
For nearly 300 high school and CEGEP students, it was judgment day.
The 2010 Bell Montreal Regional Science & Technology Fair rolled onto campus on March 21. With nearly 100 prizes up for grabs plus the chance to win one of 12 spots for the provincial fair, the competition was intense.
At Concordia, an army of volunteers, staff, and faculty had been preparing for the event since last summer.
“We started with five or six people. Everybody we approached bought into the idea,” said Guy Gosselin from Planning & Operations Facilities for the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science. Gosselin was one of the main coordinators along with Graham Carr, Miriam Posner, Catherine Mulligan, Ollivier Dyens and Carole Brabant.
“This is a terrific showcasing opportunity for Concordia and a chance to lend our institutional support to the value of science education,” said Carr, the newly appointed Dean of Graduate Studies.
The event kicked off Sunday with an opening address from Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space and current member of parliament for Westmount-Ville-Marie.
He encouraged the students to be curious and to keep asking questions.
“Anybody who does science is on an adventure,” he said. “You are going where no one has gone before.”
For the next two days, the lobbies of the EV and MB Buildings were chock-a-block with anxious students, proud parents and visitors. Each project was evaluated by five judges from Concordia and the community.
Sixteen-year-old Elliott Saleh from Herzliah High School submerged 20 teeth into different liquids and found that the dyes and sugars in grape juice were more damaging than Coke and coffee. He then brushed the teeth to test out the merits of three popular whitening toothpastes. While Colgate was most effective on plaque, Arm & Hammer had the best whitener.
On the other side of the hall, Soojin Kil from Kells Academy was displaying the foil-lined cell phone cases she made to block electromagnetic radiation. “We’re constantly using our phones,” she said. “With a little research, I found out it can cause cancer or tumors.”
With an electrosmog meter, she measured the amount of rays emitted from a cell phone at various distances. Kil found that a thin sheet of aluminum foil inside a cell phone case could cut out radiation dramatically.
Two intrepid students from Vincent Massey Collegiate created the Eco Diner, a self-contained eco-system in which speckled trout and organic lettuce live off each other in a recirculating environment.
“Our project was proven to be more efficient, earth-friendly, and most of all cheaper than the company that supplies food for our school cafeteria,” Anthony Portulese said.
Portulese and his partner Bianca Gauthier were able to produce a plate of fish and veggies for 70 cents, which was 30 cents less than the supplier.
The top prize for the best overall project went to Abicuraman Uthamacumaran from Marymount Academy, for his research into uveal melanoma. Concordia also handed out 13 Young Innovator Awards of Excellence providing students with first-year entrance scholarships worth $2 500 each.
Carr was very happy to see great collaboration between the academic and non-academic sectors and great support from volunteers. According to Gosselin, the buzz and the excitement in the atrium were possible thanks to an incredible crew.
“We were tired by the end but worked very well together. It’s the first time I’ve run an event where everyone is so deeply involved,” he said.
For more, see the science fair website.
The event was also made possible with the help of Loredana Carbone, Annie Paré, Pina Greco, Denise Karelis, Sara Lopez, Elena Raznovan and Wilson Wong.