Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., students to compete in national science fair

Students from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., will travel to Edmonton later this month to compete in a national science fair. They'll have to opportunity to meet students from across the country, learn from various workshops and win prize money.

'I hope it inspires them,' says teacher at Chief T’Selehye school

Two high school students smile in school hallway.

Extracting strawberry DNA, analyzing sleep deprivation and explaining hydrophobic pepper — those are the science projects from three students representing the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories at a national science fair.

Koda Amos, Regan Grandjambe and Tori Lafferty from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., will be travelling to Edmonton from May 13 to 20 to compete at the Youth Science Canada exhibition.

When Amos, a Grade 10 student at Chief T'Selehye School, learned he would be competing against other students from across the country, he said he felt a little nervous.

"I've just never been selected to go. It's new," he said.

Amos' project looks at sleep deprivation and how it affects our ability to work and study. He said he interviewed a group of his peers about how much sleep they get and then asked 10 skill-testing questions.

He said the results were mostly as he hypothesized and those with more sleep had better success with the questions.

Asked how he came up with the project, Amos said he "was sleepy and curious about the sleep we get."

High school student kneels next to science project on bristol board.

Grade 11 student Regan Grandjambe's project is about how to take DNA from a strawberry.

Since learning more about the upcoming exhibition in Edmonton, Grandjambe said that she's looking forward to sharing her project, and also learning from workshops at the fair.

Through the week, students will have the opportunity to participate in workshops on topics ranging from zoology and solar observation to sustainable technology and nursing.

Grandjambe said she is especially interested in one workshop delving into heart anatomy.

Amos, Grandjambe and Lafferty will join nearly 400 students from across the country at the event, including other N.W.T. students from the Beaufort Delta and South Slave regions.

Darren Hataley is a program support teacher at Chief T'Selehye School.

Between presenting their projects, the workshops, meeting other students and even a student talent show, he said the trip has no shortage of learning opportunities.

"I hope it inspires them," Hataley said.

Snowmobiles in front of building in winter.

Reni Barlow, executive director of Youth Science Canada, said the fair is all about getting students to ask questions and think about solving issues in their communities.

"Whether it's in a remote community or the heart of an urban centre it doesn't really matter, kids have great ideas and they're very observant and come up with some really interesting solutions to problems," Barlow said.

He said that roughly half the students will go home with a medal and an accompanying scholarship to one of seven Canadian universities. On top of that, there are 25 special award categories where recipients are selected to win a cash prize.

For one of them, the Sanofi Biogenius Canada award which celebrates research on health and life sciences, Grandjambe is in the running.

Barlowe said the fair also encourages students to integrate Indigenous traditional knowledge into their projects.

For example, in the past they've had projects on things like qamutiiks (traditional sleds) and how best to make them slide, and on medicines, he said.

Hataley said this is the first year the Chief T'Selehye school has participated with its own local science fair and the plan is to keep it going as an annual event. Next year, he said, it will be bigger and better.

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