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Grade 9 Shilo student's project earns top prize at Western Manitoba Science Fair

Hannah Leckie, a Grade 4 student from Kirkcaldy Heights School, works on a paper airplane with other students at a activity station during the Western Manitoba Science Fair at the Keystone Centre on Tuesday.

TIM SMITH /BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Hannah Leckie, a Grade 4 student from Kirkcaldy Heights School, works on a paper airplane with other students at a activity station during the Western Manitoba Science Fair at the Keystone Centre on Tuesday.

For her first science project, Grade 2 student Emily Clark chose to experiment with one of her favourite things — bubbles.

"They are fun to play with," Clark said with a big smile on her face.

The young École Harrison student said she mixed up eight bubble solutions to see which worked best. In the end, she found that her homemade solution — made with pink food colouring, dish soap, corn syrup and hot water — worked the best.

Clark’s project was just one of hundreds unveiled at yesterday’s Western Manitoba Science Fair inside the Keystone Centre’s Manitoba Room.

This year, the fair saw its biggest turnout yet with 672 students with 456 projects from 26 schools participating from across southwestern Manitoba.

Pat Bowslaugh, who has been a part of the annual fair’s organizing committee for more than 30 years, said she "couldn’t be happier" with this year’s turnout.

"They’re taking advantage of an opportunity with minimal cost and a huge amount of learning," she said, adding it took the help of many volunteers to make this year’s fair a success.

While the first half of the day was set aside for students to set up their projects and for judges to make their final decisions, parents and community members were invited to check out all of the projects in the afternoon.

Clark’s mother, Cheryl Mauthe, said seeing her daughter work on her project was "very exciting."

"I liked seeing how excited she is about all of it," adding this year’s projects were "literally from one extreme to the next."

"I’m blown away by some of the skill of these youngsters."

With students from grades 1 to 12 participating, Grade 9 École La Source in Shilo student Max Werner-Fisher chose a relatively new topic to help him stand out.

Werner-Fisher’s project on hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to help extract fluids such as oil or gas, is starting to gain momentum in North Dakota, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

"It’s getting popular, even though not many people know about it," he said. "I wanted to know what these effects had on vegetation, so I made up my own blend of the solution they use ... and I tested it on plants for 45 days and as a result, all the plants died."

His fresh idea ultimately won the young scientist yesterday’s top award. Werner-Fisher’s project, entitled Fracturer notre futur, won best in fair. The top two runner-ups were fellow École La Source students Aiden Simard and Christopher Vauzelle. All three winners will now go on to the Canada Wide Science Fair being held in Windsor, Ont., in May.

The Western Manitoba Science Fair began in 1969 and has since become one of the largest regional science fairs in Canada.

Local donors and sponsors also provided the fair with special awards this year, including cash awards, books and trophies.

But Werner-Fisher said his favourite part of the annual event is seeing his friends from other schools.

"It’s fun," he said. "There’s a lot of great projects here, a lot of great ideas, it’s fantastic."

» lenns@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 19, 2014

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For her first science project, Grade 2 student Emily Clark chose to experiment with one of her favourite things — bubbles.

"They are fun to play with," Clark said with a big smile on her face.

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For her first science project, Grade 2 student Emily Clark chose to experiment with one of her favourite things — bubbles.

"They are fun to play with," Clark said with a big smile on her face.

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