Langara College’s gymnasium was full of budding scientists for one of Canada’s largest science fairs last week.
Langara teamed up with the Vancouver school board to host the city’s district science fair on March 1. Approximately 270 students from grades 7 to 12 showcased research projects that had taken months to prepare. More than 130 displays covered subjects ranging from hydraulics to the dangers of diet sodas.
Students are more interested in science because of science fairs
“It gives them experience in presenting their work and communicating science in an understandable way,” said Elena Zaikova, a science fair judge.
Students were enthusiastic about the fair.
“It’s been an amazing three months doing all of this project,” said Cheng Xie, a student participant. “I took away a lot of it, and even if I don’t make it [to the next level], it’s been a great experience.”
Science fairs are important because they get students excited about science, said Matthew Fisher, a judge at the event.
“It gets them more deeply interested in a particular subject,” he said. “They’re maybe forced to dig a bit deeper than they would in a normal school project. They have more ownership of the material.”
Science fairs help students network
Judges at the fair are from a variety of science backgrounds, including PhD students, experts working in the field and representatives from Langara and UBC.
One of the main benefits of participating in a science fair is networking, said Jayashree Shrivastava, a science fair judge.
“When kids come to the science fair, they interact with other schools, teachers and professors,” she said. “I see how interested and dedicated to their project they are. It’s fun to watch.”
Reasons Langara was chosen as a host
Although the science fair has previously been held at different high schools and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Langara was chosen for several reasons.
“It’s an ideal venue for us because you have a large gym space for us to do the judging,” said Albert Chang, the science fair co-ordinator.
Langara was also an attractive option because its staff volunteered to offer seminars to students on new science technologies like 3D printing. “We wanted students to be more engaged in the science so they can see what science is all about,” Chang said.
Students were also treated to a science-based magic show put on by the college’s chemistry department.
District science fair gives Langara an opportunity to attract prospective students
Hosting the event gave Langara a chance to showcase its facilities and faculty. “A lot of our students live a lot closer to Langara than to UBC, so why should they have to commute?” asked Chang.
“With smaller classes, some of these students would actually thrive better here than in a university setting,” he said. “We wanted to expose these students to the college.”
In this video, judges and students discuss the benefits of participating in the Vancouver District Science Fair:
Reported by Ryan Banagan and Jules Knox