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Seven young scientists head to national competition

Glenlyon student wins top award at UVic-hosted science fair
Glenlyon Norfolk student Nathan Kuehne is going on to more competitions after taking top honours at the at the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair held at UVic.

The top winner in the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair is proving his mettle even further afield before heading to the Canadian competition next month.

Grade 11 student Nathan Kuehne of Glenlyon-Norfolk was the top winner at the VIRSF held at UVic for his Phenylalanine Self-Diagnostic Test for Phenylketonuria Patients. In second place was the team of Andrea Chan (St. Michaels University School) and Matt Treble (Lambrick Park Secondary) for improving Prosthetic Hand Grip Using 3D Printable Compounds. Austin Sawyer (Lambrick Park) finished third for low-cost solutions to increase the longevity of wooden railroad ties.

Fourth place went to Alexander Stead and David Weaver (both Glenlyon-Nofolk) for Iron Nanoparticle Based In-Situ Anti-Coagulant Delivery.  Janet Dawson (Gordon Head Middle School) finished fifth for accurately predicting within five minutes where the sun will set from the top of Mount Doug.

Competition was fierce at the VIRSF where 159 students in Grades 4 to 12 presented their science projects, says Randy Enkin, president of the Society for the Advancement of Young Scientists. The Victoria non-profit society sponsors the annual fair at UVic for students to present their research and interact with local professionals.

“It’s very validating for those kids,” Enkin said. “I love giving them the opportunity to talk to interested grownups. It’s a very nurturing environment. Every single kid is going to talk to at least four scientists during judging and probably more.”

Started in 1962, the VIRSF is one of 14 regional competitions in B.C. Volunteer-run, with the help of local donors and the Science Fair Foundation of B.C.,  the University of Victoria hosts the fair each April and assists SAYS by recruiting professionals, faculty and graduate students to act as judges and volunteers.

Enkin, who’s been involved for 15 years, does it because of the value of science outreach and what the interaction opportunity provides.

“My three kids all between them did 20 projects and it was so influential in their lives,” Enkin said. “So much of what young adults they became is because of the projects they did. I’m blown away at the good that this does.”

Projects at VIRSF ranged from how to make good compost, or plastic from plants; the diary of a hungry rat, and the death of an orange; a tsunami simulator, and the perfect smoothie.

Kuehne went on to win second place in the 2015 Sanofi Biogenius British Columbia competition in Vancouver that includes eight finalists from across the province competing in biotechnology projects. He also won the Centre for Drug Research and Development Commercialization Prize.

The top seven students advance to the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Frerficton, NB. on May 10 where they join 500 students from across the country for a week of competition and science education. Travel and accommodation is covered by the Society for the Advancement of Young Scientists.