Island students land award-winning finishes that showcase bioscience smarts

Picture Left to right: Medal winners Abby Chapman, Christianne Riveroll, Joe Moak, Davis Nicholson and Jannah McCallum at the 2019 Canada-Wide Science Fair (credit: photo from Lise Deveau)

At recent national and regional competitions, Island students were rewarded for their science innovations. Apart from ranking among the top finishers, the students also received either medals, cash prizes or entrance scholarships for Canadian universities.

Island teen places second in Atlantic Canada’s BioGENius competition

At Dalhousie University, teenagers from across Atlantic Canada gathered for the regional edition of the Sanofi BioGENius competition. On April 16, 2019, Islander Abby Chapman (grade 10, Charlottetown Rural High School) earned a second-place finish for her bioscience project.

Abby investigated how fermentation temperatures affected bacteria drawn from marine sources. She studied seven bacteria that were isolated from cold and warm waters, and she found that five had potential to become natural products. Her mentors were Anna Kuznetsova and Vernon Cole Ptycia-Lamky from Dr. Russ Kerr’s laboratory at the University of Prince Edward Island.

PEI’s best showing at Canada’s national science fair

For 2019, PEI sent five students from four schools to the Canada-Wide Science Fair, and each of the five students returned with medals, a record-setting medal count for PEI.

Held May 11 to 17, this year marked the 58th edition of the Canada-Wide Science Fair. The University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton hosted all 500 students who participated. The students came from every province and territory to represent their schools and regions at the national fair.

In the Junior category, Jannah McCallum (grade 7, Queen Charlotte Intermediate School) won a silver and a $2,000 entrance scholarship for her project Weeding Out the Alternatives: Is Cinnamon a Herbicide? in which she tested the spice on carrots, which are related to weeds like Giant Hogweed and Cow Parsnip.

For their joint project called Ready, Set, Grow: A Guide to Better Microgreens, Davis Nicholson and Joe Moak (grade 8, Gulf Shore Consolidated School) shared a silver medal win and earned a $2,000 entrance scholarship. Davis and Joe pretreated seeds and applied statistical analysis to predict better germination rates for microgreens.

In the Intermediate category, PEI gained two bronze medals and $1,000 entrance scholarships for each of the medalists. First, by measuring the electrical flow of fingertips, Christianne Riveroll (grade 9, Grace Christian School) assessed how colours affect moods for her project called The Psychology of Colour.

The second Intermediate bronze medalist was Abby Chapman as she once again presented her project called Temperature-dependent Approach Enhance Drug Discovery from Bacteria, but this time at the national level.

With their strong showing of bioscience smarts, these five students have set a positive example for their classmates. Perhaps by 2020, PEI will have students compete in all three age categories: Junior, Intermediate and Senior.