Inquisitive young minds in the Electric City and Peterborough area sparked great excitement with their innovative projects at this year’s Peterborough Regional Science Fair (PRSF), which took place on April 6 to 9 as a virtual event.
“People think Peterborough is a hockey town, well the truth is that it is a science town. We have one of the largest and longest running regional fairs in Canada,” says Dr. Neil Emery, Trent Biology professor and PRSF chair. “Trent was founded in no small part by donations from GE employees whose vision was to have a strong liberal arts and science community for their children, and the University has played an integral role in the PRSF since its inception in 1970.”
Professor Emery believes that the pandemic has amplified the importance of science careers and science literacy to society, and events such as the PRSF and the Canada-Wide Science Fair inspires hundreds of aspiring young scientists.
A pathway to Trent
Visiting Trent’s picturesque Symons Campus and meeting science faculty and students has always been a highlight of the fair. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 event had to move online, yet still serves as a highlight in these young people’s calendar.
“For many of these kids, the science fair has been the only extracurricular activity they’ve had in the past 13 months. Our online platform also makes the fair accessible to a broader audience,” says Prof. Emery.
First-year Biology student at Trent, Jacob Bowman, is testament to the impact of the PRSF.
“I have always been fascinated with nature and the outdoors. My dad is a wildlife scientist and he encouraged my interests,” says Mr. Bowman. “I first started doing science fair projects in elementary school and they gave me opportunities to explore my interest in science beyond the normal classroom. The experience was a big factor in my decision to study Biology at Trent.”
As a fly-fishing enthusiast, Mr. Bowman developed a keen interest in fish at a young age. In 2015, he started research in Harper Creek, a local trout stream in the south end of Peterborough – combining his interest in fish with his love for science. Mr. Bowman has participated in the PRSF and CWSF for many years, and won a Trent scholarship at the 2019 PRSF.
Next generation of scientists
This year’s virtual event saw entries from 55 young scientists, with five students advancing to the 2021 Canada-Wide Science Fair:
- Calvin Karthik (Kenner C.V.I.) with a project titled A Mighty Mushroom and the Power of Poop : Testing Biogas Production using Spent Mushroom Substrate
- Shaun Plassery (Kenner C.V.I.) with a project titled Phytoremediation of Crude Oil: Effect of Rhizobium and Kelp on Soybean & Wheat under Oil Stress V2
- Jessica Livingston (East Northumberland S.S) with a project titled A Mountain of Technofossils: Is This the Hill We Want to Die On?
- Shreya Plassery (St. Catherine Catholic E.S) with a project titled Unlocking the Legacy: Can Mycorrhiza and Spent Mushroom Substrate activate Legacy Phosphorus?
- Rowan Sutcliffe Dummitt (Adam Scott Intermediate School) with a project titled Impact of Covid-19 Public Health Messaging Techniques on Adolescents