What does an intravenous fluid delivery system, a robotic eavestrough cleaner and a renewable energy source have in common?
They were all winning projects at this year’s Canada-Wide Science and Engineering Fair, recognizing three elementary students from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
Held at the Richard J. Currie Center in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the fair “fuels curiosity of Canadian youth through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects.” This year, over 500 participants from all over the country came together to share their innovations.
But being at the Canada-Wide didn’t stop Christopher Lamont, a grade 8 student from St. Margaret Mary Catholic Elementary School from thinking globally.
His project, “Creation of an Intravenous Fluid Administration System for Low Income Countries” was inspired after learning that more than half a million children under the age of five die due to diarrhea and dehydration.
“Part of the reason why so many children die each year due to dehydration is because there is no safe way to treat children through intravenous fluid therapy in poorly resourced areas of the world,” he said.
His project, which earned him a gold medal and a $4000 entrance scholarship to Western University, involved using 3D printing to create a working prototype of an intravenous fluid delivery system that could give a bolus (first) dose of 20 mL per kg of fluid.
There were a lot of challenges, he admitted, mainly with perfecting the 3D printing, but his key to success was fueled from his passion.
“If you are doing science fair, make sure that you are doing something you are passionate about because if you are spending a ton of hours on your project and if you are not passionate about it you will get boring really fast.”
His biggest takeaway, however?
“We can always do things for ourselves but it’s really important to help other people,” he said. “Even if we don’t think it, we can have a really big impact on others.”
Lamont was also the recipient of two special awards, the "Youth Can Innovate Award" and the “S.M. Blair Family Foundation Award.”
Joining him with on stage with another gold medal win and $4000 entrance scholarship to Western was fellow St. Margaret Mary grade 8 student Anthony Saturnino, with his project “An Autonomous Robotic Eavestrough Cleaner.”
For him, inspiration was found right at home.
“I created an autonomous robotic eavestrough cleaner to help prevent manual eavestrough cleaning injuries,” he said. “I chose this project because there was an incident when my dad almost fell off a ladder.”
He hoped he would build a robot that would clean the eavestrough 50% of the time, but in his 7th prototype exceeded expectations with a success rate of 60%.
“One thing I took away from my project was that although there are many obstacles and challenges if you put in the time and dedication you will eventually get through it and there is always a reward at the end.”
For him, STEM learning is not just reserved for his participation in the science fair.
“I want to pursue a career in this field,” said Saturnino.
Also recognized for his award-winning project was St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School grade 7 student Tavian Augustus.
His project, “Solar Step: Combining Solar Panels and Piezo Cells to Create Clean Electricity,” earned him a bronze medal.
“I chose to do this project because our planet needs new sources of clean energy in order to stop climate change and help the environment,” he said. “We need young people to innovate and create new inventions to help preserve our natural world.”
“With this project, I hoped to create a walkable/drivable solar tile that can generate electricity using kinetic energy from footsteps and solar energy.”
To prepare for the Canada-Wide, all three students spend extra hours finessing their projects and practicing their presentations for the 10 judges that would be interacting with them.
“The preparation for the event was very intense,” said Saturnino.
Hard work, however, paid off.
“At the fair, I had a lot of fun meeting people from around the country and exploring the University of New Brunswick. I found it very enjoyable that people had the same interests as I in innovation and engineering.”
Participants were also treated to a tour day where they explored Hopewell Rocks and Cape Enrage.
“Hopewell rocks was very interesting,” said Augustus. “We saw how the tides in the Bay of Fundy work. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, about the height of a 5-story building.”
His advice for students hoping to one day get a similar experience through their science fair project?
“Start brainstorming in September and write down all your ideas in a journal.”
“You never know which idea could be great.”