A trio of student scientists are heading to Fredericton, New Brunswick to represent the Kootenays in the 2015 Canada-wide science fair.
Dylan Peil, Nicholas Paun and Ivie Lock-Luttmer all earned their spots at the recent regional science fair, where they displayed their findings to their fellow students and a panel of judges.
The event, held April 11 at L.V. Rogers Secondary, featured 86 projects from almost 100 participants from the Kootenay Lake and Kootenay-Columbia school districts.
The national competition will take place from May 14 to 16.
Paun, a Grade 12 student at Mount Sentinel, earned his spot at the national competition for developing Chemlogic: A Logic Programming Chemistry System.
“ChemLogic is an innovation. It’s a study tool I developed for chemistry students that helps them balance chemical equations,” he told the Star.
Paun’s invention is now available as an Android app on Google Play, and already four people have purchased it. (One of the first customers was his friend Peil.)
“Quite a few of the judges were programmers and they were very interested in the algorithms. I had quite a few chemistry students approach me who were interested in using it as a study tool.”
Paun won the BCIC Young Innovator scholarship ($2,000), a Selkirk College scholarship ($500) and gold in the Senior Innovation Division.
He plans to continue to develop the app to include supports for all levels of high school chemistry. He believes the project may end up being financially lucrative.
Currently the app costs $1.99.
Peil, who is a Grade 8 student at Trafalgar, designed and prototyped a solar concentrator using a satellite dish covered with mirrors.
He hopes that his design could help contribute to the transition away from photovoltaic panels, which take seven years to pay off their carbon footprint.
“I’m interested in solar energy because of the fact we’re facing the crisis of global warming and it’s a big issue,” he said. “We need to stop burning so many fossil fuels.”
Over the course of his work, Peil built a number of Sterling engines, which use the displacement of heat to create energy.
Peil built two, one designed by NASA, but neither was quite successful. He remains undeterred. Peil’s primary goal is to encourage a transition towards a cheaper, easier way of creating solar energy.
His efforts netted him the Nelson Hydro Award ($100), the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC Award ($100), a Selkirk College scholarship ($200), and gold in the Junior Innovation division.
Lock-Luttmer, a Grade 7 student at Trafalgar, earned gold in the Junior Research Division for her work on dead zones.
“I wanted to know why I’d never heard of them, and why it was a problem,” she said.
“Basically they’re caused mostly by people dumping sewage and fertilizers into the water, because that causes plant growth like algae and when it dies it takes up oxygen to decompose.”
She said dead zones are an issue we need to address because their environmental impact is huge.
Before the regionals Lock-Luttmer met with a local biologist to learn about dead zones, and discovered there are none in Kootenay Lake. She’d like to see it remain that way.
“It could take hundreds of years just to get rid of one,” she said.