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Richmond student wins first place at science fair

By Angel St. George

Published 2:36 PDT, Wed May 25, 2022

Hugh Boyd secondary student Kieran Foster, 16, recently won first place at the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair.

Foster’s chemistry project successfully changed the chemical composition of wood to make it harder. His inspiration for the project came from learning that lots of wood gets left behind when logging companies harvest trees.

Foster’s innovative experiment demonstrated that discarded wood could be repurposed in a sustainable way. While he had competed in past science fairs, this was Foster’s first win.

He improved his approach to designing and presenting science projects over time, based on experience gained in previous competitions.

Foster didn’t expect to win first place this year, but was delighted to receive the honour. He hopes that his achievement will inspire other young science enthusiasts to participate in science fairs.

“I want other kids to know that they have nothing to lose,” says Foster. “It’s about having fun and exploring your creativity through science. Winning a prize is great, but the experience is the best part.”

The Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair program (GVRSF) provides a platform for students to showcase their projects and interact with like-minded students, academics, and industry professionals. 

It’s open to over 100,000 students from grades 7 to 12 attending public, independent, private, and home schools. 

The students’ work is evaluated by professors and experts in various fields. Judges give feedback about what participants did well and what they could consider improving.

The experience aims to give students a positive feeling about what they’ve done and to encourage them to be curious about the things that interest them.

Science fair director Patti Leigh founded the fair in 1983 after being fascinated by the innovations she witnessed while attending the Hudson Bay science fair. 

Her initial volunteer efforts to get science fairs happening in B.C. were motivated by her passion for science. 

“I’m a teacher by training and I have always been interested in students having options to go as far as they can, as far as their abilities and interests are concerned,” says Leigh. “We want students to continue to be curious about the world around them, to explore where their interests and curiosities lie, and to enter a fair to do research and expand their horizons. No matter what they go on to do in the future, the skills they learn by doing science projects will help them succeed in whatever career direction they choose.”

Thirteen science fairs happen across the province annually.

For the first few years, the prototype for the GVRSF was held at Science World, until moving to the University of British Columbia in 1992.

Several judges are part of the university’s faculty, including chief judge Leonard Foster (Kieran’s father), who himself participated in the GVRSF during his youth. 

The winners of the GVRSF will go on to participate at the national level in the Canada-Wide Science Fair.

Last year the GVRSF team brought home numerous prizes and awards, including five gold medals, five bronze medals, and nine special awards. The prizes included $15,000 in cash and $80,000 in scholarships.

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