EF’s Science & Innovation Summit took place on March 13th and 14th, 2014 in Berlin, making it the perfect time to recognize inspiring young people who have made incredible scientific breakthroughs. Every year, Youth Science Canada hosts the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF), which aims to create a positive scientific and social experience for youth, as well as help participants benchmark their achievements against those of their peers. The Fair also introduces these students to peer role models—some of the best young scientific and technological minds in Canada.
Roberta Bondar is a great example of a past CWSF winner who has gone on to do extraordinary things. As an astronaut, physician, scientist, environmental activist and photographer, Roberta recognizes that her participation in the Canada-Wide Science Fair helped develop her own interest in scientific exploration and defined her life.
Below, you’ll read about six young Canadian inventors who are all past winners of the Canada-Wide Science Fair, and who have used their passion for science to find innovative solutions to issues being faced by our society.
Ontario-born Ben Gulak is internationally recognized as the inventor of The UNO, a one-wheeled, zero-emissions motorcycle that serves as a solution for transportation issues in crowded cities. Ben won Popular Science’s Invention of the Year in 2008, was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20, and even made an appearance on the television show Dragons’ Den. As a young boy, Ben Gulak’s future was shaped by the science fairs he attended, and he’s since gained international attention with his innovative ideas. He now uses his story to inspire other young people to pursue their interest in the field.
In 2008, Supritha Nilam created an award-winning extract composed of antioxidants to help promote the growth of plants. When she was only in grade 11, Supritha discovered that vitamin supplements are not only good for humans—they’re good for plants too. Her research found that antioxidants improve growth, make plants more resistant to disease, and are safer for the environment as they don’t produce any harmful run-off.
Caitlin Martin Newnham
Inspired by her mother’s long-term pain due to a car accident, Caitlin Martin Newnham developed a pain relief medication made of hot peppers. The London, Ontario-based student found that the capsaicin found in hot peppers caused a burning sensation followed by period of numbness. As capsaicin has no known drug interactions and very few side effects, Caitlin discovered that by adding a diluted salt solution she was able to minimize the burning effect, thereby providing a safe and effective pain reliever.
Warsaw, Ontario’s Alyson Bell knew that contamination of food and water is an ongoing problem for millions of people around the world. Through her research, Alyson discovered that oregano has strong antibacterial properties. By layering a water filter with oregano, gravel and charcoal, she found that contaminated water came out clean and safe to drink. Hers is an incredible breakthrough that could have a significant impact on those affected by unsafe drinking water.
Kyle Schole, a young Albertan innovator, discovered that ground-up old tires could produce usable energy. Kyle recognized that processing waste is costly and uses electricity, so he developed a way to generate usable energy from scrap tires. Kyle added bacteria to the old tires and used LED lights of different wavelengths to have the microbes eat away at the tires, which produced electricity.
Daniel Burd’s project, “Plastic Not Fantastic,” focused on reducing the environmental impact caused by excessive plastic bag use. Daniel found two microbial strains with the ability to essential “eat” plastic bags, and was able to speed up this process. His discovery means that the bags will break down faster and the volume of plastic will be reduced at a much faster rate.
Do you want to help develop the next great scientific discovery? Inspire a passion for science in your students with EF’s science & innovation tours!
Traffic: Flickr photo via sunming.biz
Plants: Flickr photo via Tim Patterson
Peppers: Flickr photo via oldandsolo
Water: Flickr photo via Greg Riegler Photography
Tires: Flickr photo via crabchick
Plastic bag: Flickr photo via EdinburghGreens