It’s not every Grade 12 student that spends their free time creating educational videos or writing children’s books, but for Ella Chan it’s all part of her passion for science.
The Glenlyon Norfolk School student just became the first B.C. student to receive the STEAM Horizon award, a national scholarship awarded to youth who promote positive changes in their community using science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).
The scholarship allots five recipients per year $25,000 to put towards post-secondary education, and Chan knows exactly what she wants to do.
“Next year I will be going to UBC and starting the Science One program,” she said. “After that I want to pursue pharmacology.”
|Ella Chan, grade 12 student at Glenlyon Norfolk School, creates educational videos on for kids on YouTube. This was part of the reason she has become the first B.C. student to recieve the STEAM Horizon award. (YouTube/Sci Files)
Chan became interested in the sciences after her younger brother was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a potentially debilitating kidney disease.
“I was 12 when my brother was diagnosed,” she said. “Hearing how his condition worked and learning that there wasn’t a lot of treatment options or research into the disease really inspired me to pursue science.”
Since then Chan has run a YouTube channel called Sci Files, which aims to educate children about science. She also helped produce a video for NephCure, the non-profit organization promoting research and awareness for nephrotic syndrome.
Chan said she gets good responses to her productions.
“Sometimes students use the videos to explore something they’re learning, or teachers use the experiments I’ve posted. It’s amazing to see people using my channel and learning.”
Chan also wrote an illustrated children’s book called STEM Files, which explores the topics of science, technology, engineering and math for kids.
“She’s very self-guided, we don’t really have to push her,” said her father, Tony Chan.
“Sometimes we try to discourage her from pushing herself so hard,” he added with a laugh.
Ella was encouraged by her teachers to apply for the award, but didn’t think she would get it.
“I was really shocked and it’s just amazing,” she said.
When asked how she manages to balance everything involved in a teenager’s life, along with all of her science-related activities, Chan laughed.
“It’s just time management. I find with the sciences, it’s something that I love to do, so I can always make time for it.”
Chan will start at UBC this September. She also received the UBC Major Entrance Scholarship for $40,000 and the BC Excellence Scholarship worth $5,000.