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The Best and Brightest: Journey to the Canada

These students will be the leaders. These are the students that will make the discoveries that will change things for mankind, so that we can survive with seven billion people on the planet. I love science fairs, because well A, you get to learn so much about the topic that you choose to study. You get to spend anywhere from three to 11 months researching your project. So this is my project from last year.

It was on Aspen trees. Doing tests and gathering data, and comparing your findings to what other people, like top researchers in the field are finding and I find that’s a really cool experience. I did not expect at all to go to the Canada-Wide Science Fair, because I was just in shock that probably lasted for several weeks. The Platinum Award is one of the top three awards at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. There’s three.

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One for top junior project, one for top intermediate, and one for top senior project. I was fortunate enough to receive the best junior project. So this year the project that I choose to do is about viruses. Viruses take shapes very similar to dodecahedron or an icosahedron. You can have individual proteins that the viruses are made of. These inside of the cell, have the ability to self-assemble.

If you can prevent a virus from assembling, then that’s a possible road to virus kind of therapy, or an anti-viral drug. This is all very theoretical, but ideally you could have an antiviral drug that would work against a certain subset of viruses, as a whole, and would stop them from assembling correctly. I always want to find the answer. I believe that’s partly within me, but I also believe that that’s kind of nurtured by my parents as well. – I work as a geophysicist, but I have a degree in geology and a degree in geophysics. – And I’m also, I also have a degree in geology and geophysics, and I later went back to get an MBA at the University of Calgary.

– I still need to do my viral geometry and my RNA packaging section, right? – Right, oh wait, go back down to, what are you going to explain in RNA packaging and how does that tie to the next step? – I’ll be talking, well about the RNA packaging itself. – Okay. Michael and I both do some work to educate ourselves about each topic that Sophie endeavors to work on.

We do that to ask her questions and to guide her learning through the process of research and experimentation. I think last year’s fair project, I think she had an expectation, certainly, that she’d go to the city science fair with it. You know, if you’ve been there once, you know how to do it and I think that probably goes through her head. You know, she knows what it takes.

I’ve made a pretty good job each year, making the bar higher and higher and at one point it’s gonna be not able to jump higher or achieve the same level every single time and I just can’t expect that. – Yeah, so this one actually solves a Rubik’s cube. So it’s scanning each side right now and now what’s gonna happen is it’s gonna pick the fastest way to solve it.

So the eye is actually just a color sensor, so it can’t see everything, right? Does anyone have any questions? Who likes 3D things? Our family really believes in stepping out of the comfort zone and just pushing as far as possible and doing things that nobody else has done yet. This is kind of where we do all our studio and lab stuff. Maker Space, we like to call it.

Here’s my dad, he’s working on our CNC. When you bend your finger, this would actually pull slightly on this, which is a sensor here. – I’m a mechanical engineer. Since recently I’m owner of an art gallery and I’m a photographer, so I’m selling my own art through that gallery in town. – My mom is actually an accountant, a musician, and a lawyer. – We both are from Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is a little country in Europe. It’s oil and gas country, so that’s how we ended up in Calgary, actually. – My mom’s working on a video project she’s been working on now and then Tim is playing with his 3D builder, so that’s kinda cool.

I’m really proud of our household and I’m really happy of the way it is. Whenever I have the opportunity to share with people, or share with my friends or share with anybody who comes over, I definitely, definitely show them everything. I spread it out a little bit, so it’s not all at once and not too much confusion, but I do feel very proud about the household that I do live in. My science fair project is called Inducing the Delta-32 Mutation in HIV I patients in order to develop an immunity to HIV over time. Essentially there exists a mutation in 1% of the Caucasian population called the Delta-32 mutation and how it works is that a segment of the DNA is actually not there in these individuals, meaning that they’re lacking a certain receptor on the outside of their cells, which is necessary for HIV infection and so these people with this mutation are actually immune to HIV. So what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to induce this mutation in HIV patients so that over time they slowly become more and more resistant and actually become immune to HIV.

– Product at the and it didn’t get traction. – Guys, you have about five to six minutes before we start the mock competition, so work quickly. We run robotics camps for kids seven to 14 years old and today what we see here is this is our robotics and programming classes. So kids, from the start, learn about motors, they learn about sensors, they learn about basic programming tools, So they learn about loops and controls and then what happens is they apply their skills to actually build a robot that can solve challenges.

Come watch the robot. – Whoa, nice. If we can instill programming and the love of science and all of that into children from a younger age, they will have so much higher chances of success in actually being pushed into a STEM career later on in life. We’ve hosted over 40,000 students and 30,000 projects. and this has been an amazing year. We had 915 students, 655 projects and over 500 judges.

These are the 12 finalists going to the Calgary Canada-Wide science fair. We have Crystal Radinski, Faris Fizal, Mehul Gupta, Anika Achari, Monica Ada Lopez Perez, Catriona McIntosh, Nicole Shmidt, Varun Kundra, Tim Wu, Emily Gubski, Colette Benko, and finally Sophie Hoye Pacholek. I present to you Team Calgary. – You have a paper, a five page paper to write, you’ve got some stuff you have to give me today, so that I can get you registered tonight. A lot of these students go on to university and the university’s are vying for these students, so a lot of the prizes at the Canada-Wide Science Fair are scholarships and they’re big scholarships.

And there’s basically, up to almost a million dollars worth of prizes hat end up coming out, so… There’s a lot on the line here. – It’s always great if you can do well and it’s great to get that recognition for your work, but really, the recognition is making it there in the first place. – I think last year they were all telling us how the odds of making it to Canada-Wide are, you have less of a chance of making it to Canada-Wide Science Fair than to going into space as an astronaut, if you apply. – Her dream has always been to go to Canada-Wide. And she’s like, “oh, if I could just ever go “to Canada-Wide, that would be so amazing,” and we’re like, well, yeah.

– My project this year is developing a novel pediatric cancer therapy targeting epigenetics in neuroblastoma to induce differentiation. So when cells are developing from a stem cell, when you’re first kind of conceived, you’re only these cells and these cells don’t have any specialization and so as they specialize, they mature to form muscle cells and neurons and so somewhere along that line is where cancer kind of develops. It mutates and goes off those railroad tracks and so I’m trying to differentiate the cells and so you actually take those cancer cells and you’re trying to put them back on those tracks. Maybe not the tracks they came off of, but to become almost a non-cancerous cell type, so I was looking to see if that drug could induce differentiation and turn these cancerous cells and give them properties of non-cancerous cells. – Hmm, love the lettering. – It was a lot of bacteria.

– Oh yeah, I love the colors, the turquoise. Her first science fair, we were going through some family struggles. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and so I was in the middle of treatment, so I was a bit worried that, I thought like, how in the world are we ever gonna manage that. And Aaron, he said, “I’ll help her, it’ll be okay.” And it was a good distraction because Colette, you know, was taking on a lot, worrying and you know, wondering and stuff, and that gave her another focus and she did kind of jump in with both feet and just say, “look, I’m doing science fair.” And it was great for them, they had their bacteria growing and they were taking their pictures and it was good.

So Colette was 13 and came home from school just wasn’t feeling great and she had some stomach pain, so we went to the doctor and she sent her for an ultrasound, just to make sure everything was okay, and unfortunately it wasn’t. As it turned out, she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma. – Yeah, so when they took the mass out of her abdomen, there was apparently a nerve running through the mass, they had to sacrifice I think it’s around eight inches of the nerve. – So, I have no function of my quad muscle, so that means it just won’t activate and I also have no sensory, so I don’t feel the whole front of my leg, up to about mid-shin. I first met Dr. Narendran actually he was my discharge oncologist for the one day and we got talking about science fair.

He’s like go read papers, come back to me, what are your ideas, what do you want to study, and then I come back to him with what I’m thinking and he’s like, okay, this is possible, this is not and he helps me kind of develop my ideas and where I kind of want to go with them and then how to put that into, not just doing research and finding out this information, but actually developing experiments that I can test and then find the answers to my question. – Colette and I were talking. I think one time Colette was quite sick. I told Colette that I do research and Colette said, can I come and work in your lab, because I’m interested in research. We made a deal that she will get better and I will take her in the lab.

– We try and keep really positive on like, I know it sounds crazy, but we are so lucky, so lucky, like, things hap, everybody has their crosses to bear in life and yes, we’ve had some rough times, but we’re still all here and that’s very lucky. – Good morning, Team Calgary. You have public viewing that goes from nine til two. This is it, so let’s go. Welcome to the Science Fair, Friday, come on in. – If you go to Canada-Wide Science Fair, you actually become part of an exclusive club.

They’re not just gonna be in their community, they actually are thinking out of the box, they are the trendsetters for the future. They will have contacts everywhere in the world, I don’t care what award they get and the ones that do get awards, we’re gonna be so happy for them. – These students represent all, the complete range, of grade seven to twelve students that you would find across the country and the sophistication of the projects ranges from, you know, the type of thing that you would expect from grade seven to twelve students, all the way up to what our judges tell us is Masters Degree level. – How many people are in your regional fair?

– Regional, about 1,000. I think last year– – 1,000? – Yeah, I guess from like 900 to just up to 1,000, so it was like 970 something, so it gets really close to that. – For only 12 slots. – Yeah, for only 12 spots, so it’s like, nothing almost.

– That’s crazy. – So we’re gonna take the ratio of these two. – Well, I was volunteering at a geriatric clinic this past summer and working with a lot of the nurses and the, of course, the patients themselves. So basically what I’m doing is looking at the brain activity of healthy patients and comparing it to brain activity of patients with dementia, so I’m looking for an EEG coherence as a biomarker for Alzheimer’s dementia. It’s just something that really intrigues me. The entire world is made of science, so the more we push forward, the more we can help the quality of life for people on Earth.

– It’s a very intensive mix of emotions, because you have the first excitement when you show up and you’re all very pumped up and your project is set up and you’re excited to present, but then judging day happens and everyone kind of freaks out a little bit. – Some have like poker faces where you can’t like tell what they’re thinking, but like other judges are really like into your project and like when they’re talking to you, you can tell like, they really like you. – All of us are really passionate about what we wanna do and we all want to win something in the end, and if we don’t end up winning, we would prefer somebody from Calgary wins if we don’t. – The students who come here tell us that for many of them, this is the best week of their year.

Of course, we have the cash awards and other awards, medals and so on, that will be given out on Friday at the awards ceremony. Welcome to the 56th Canada-Wide Science Fair awards ceremony. Today, we are here because of the 448 finalists. It’s been a spectacular week. We’ve seen some amazing science from across Canada. Congratulations to all of the 2017 Canada-Wide Science Fair award winners.

So to the young women and men, I encourage you all to be courteous, ask questions and keep searching and discovering throughout your life. Things do happen in life and if that’s your dream and that’s your passion, you should do it. That’s a gift, if you don’t use it, it’s sad. It’s really sad if you don’t use that gift that you’re given. Crystal Radinski. – I feel really satisfied because I feel that I’ve accomplished something that actually matters, that can be recognized by officials and can tell you that, you know what, yeah, your work is worth something.