Strait Regional Science Fair 2016: Celebrating and Showcasing Student Creativity and Innovation

It's that time of year again for young scientists in the Strait Region. The Strait Regional Science Fair 2016 will be celebrated from April 5 to 7, 2016, at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.  On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, the public is invited to view the grades 3-6 projects from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the grades 7 to 12 projects from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Both viewings will be held at the Civic Centre.  The Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 7, 2016, 7:00 p.m. at the SAERC Auditorium.

Over the course of the last several months, the Strait Region’s young scientists have been busy preparing, fine tuning and presenting their projects at local school fairs. Winners of the school fairs will then compete at the upcoming 18th annual Strait Regional Science Fair.

Students from grades 3 to 12 are eligible to participate in the Strait Regional Science Fair.   The Strait Regional School Board Fair is one of the only school boards that has participation from elementary students. In addition, many of our students have gone on to win awards at the national level!  The Strait Region won two bronze medals and a senior high challenge award at the 2015 Canada Wide Science Fair held in Fredericton New Brunswick, for the projects "The Scholar's 3-D Printer" (Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional) and "Micro Hydro - Do a Lot, With a little" (Dalbrae Academy). Please access this link to view a listing of all Strait Regional student projects presented at the Canada Wide Science Fairs since 2005.

Participation in the Fair provides students with an excellent educational opportunity, one in which they will learn more about the field of science while enhancing their skills in a variety of areas and having fun with their friends!

Andrew Clarey, Chair of the Strait Regional Science Fair Committee, said that there are about 215 students from Grades 3 to 12 participating in the regional fair.  The top four projects will go on to compete with more than 450 others at the national fair.   The Canada-Wide Science Fair is scheduled from May 18 to 20, 2016, at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, where students will be vying for over $250,000 in cash awards as well as scholarships and other prizes.   In addition, the Nova Scotia Science Fair Showcase will be held on May 5-7, 2016, in Halifax. These opportunities are made possible through the support of Youth Science Canada (YSC). For over 40 years, YSC has been the country’s leading charitable organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging excellence and innovation in science and technology among Canadian youth. YSC is best known for its showcase event, the annual Canada-Wide Science Fair. Their main purpose is to raise public awareness and support for Canada’s science fairs and our nation’s young scientists.

To put this event in perspective, Mr. Clarey indicated that over 25,000 elementary and high school students compete in about 101 YSC-affiliated regional fairs in every part of Canada for the opportunity to attend the national fair. Overall participation at both local and regional fairs top 500,000 students. The Strait Regional Science Fair has showcased more than 3,000 projects during the last 18 years.

There is no question that competition is tough and judging even tougher. Mr. Clarey added that the Grades 3 to 6 projects are judged on scientific skill, layout and design, originality, interview and artistic value. The Grades 7 to 12 projects are separated into three levels, Junior, Intermediate and Senior, and six divisions to facilitate judging. In addition, students are asked to classify their project as one of three types - experiment, innovation or study, for the purpose of evaluating the scientific thought portion of the judging. The seven science divisions include innovation, energy, environment, health, information, resources and discovery.

The Strait Regional School Board would like to thank members of the 2016 Science Fair Committee for their ongoing dedication to providing students with an excellent educational opportunity.  The  Strait Regional Science Fair Planning Committee members include Andrew Clarey, Chair, Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre/Academy; Betsy Jardine, Literacy Mentor; Lawrence Deagle, retired teacher;  Tracy MacIsaac, SAERC; Chris West, retired teacher; Brandon Dort, Fanning Education Centre/Guysborough Academy; Darryl Breen, Coordinator of Math and Science Programs; Stephanie MacDonald, Dalbrae Academy;  Justin Fougere, Richmond Education Centre/Academy; Maria Boudreau, Tamarac Education Centre; and Beryl Hadley and Sandra Beaton, Regional Office.

On behalf of the Planning Committee, Mr. Clarey thanked students for their dedication to participating in the event and parents/guardians for their ongoing support in helping their children prepare top-quality projects. In addition, Mr. Clarey extends special thanks to the local business for their continued support of the event and for their commitment to sponsoring the student awards; and sincere thanks to the many judges who number close to 100 each year, and who volunteer their time to review the outstanding projects - which is no easy task. When the judging is said and done, some of the top competitors continue on to provincial showcases and to the national championships.

The local and Regional Fairs are a perfect opportunity for our emerging young scientists who will help shape our tomorrow as inventors and researchers.

Some of the comments made by participating students include:

- “The Fair is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about interesting new ideas.”
- “The Science Fair is a great opportunity to get out with like-minded students, share our ideas, passions and to have fun.”
- “I think the Science Fair is fun because you get to meet new people and teach them about your project.  It is a great experience.”
- “It is fun.  I get to meet interesting people and make friends.”
- “I think that the Regional Science Fair is an exciting experience and very enjoyable.  The judges are really nice, and they make you feel welcome and relaxed.”
- “Participation in the Fair is a self-esteem booster and a chance to display my achievements beyond my own school.”
- “The Science Fair is fun and we have learned to value learning and teamwork more than winning!”
- “Science Fair is an opportunity to teach other people what you have learned.”

The Strait Regional Science Fair began under the leadership of retired teacher David Cashin who was instrumental in getting the event off the ground. Since that time, the event has grown both in the number of students involved and the amount of space required to host the event. The Fair began in Mulgrave, moved to the former Centennial Elementary school site, then to SAERC with additional space provided at the former Canso Regional Vocational School. For the past ten years, the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre has hosted the impressive event.