Guest blog: Julie Xu – Calgary Youth Science Fair
Julie Xu and her partner Annie Wang won this year’s Genome Alberta Senior Genomics prize at the Calgary Youth Science Fair. Here Dr. Gijs van Rooijen presents Julie and Annie with the award.
My week in Winnipeg was surprising and unforgettable.
I should introduce myself a little bit. My name is Julie Xu and I am a Grade 12 student at Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary, Alberta. I had a partner project with my partner Annie Wang, in which we co-cultured two types of bacteria, one aerobic, the other anaerobic, both found in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. With the support of the Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge (SABC), we were able to work with Dr. Surette’s lab at the University of Calgary and find that in the presence of the aerobic bacteria (Pseudomonas), the anaerobic one (Prevotella) grew even better. Our project has taken us to many places: from the Calgary Youth Science Fair, to the SABC Regionals, SABC Nationals in Ottawa, and finally to Winnipeg, for the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) 2009. This is my first time at Canada-Wide.
All the wonderful people I met in Winnipeg were unforgettable. Not only did I meet my delegates and my fellow finalists from Calgary Youth who were all fantastic and who made my time at Winnipeg extraordinary, I also got to interact with finalists from all over the country. It’s lovely to see cutting-edge science unite talented youths from across the country in one big group. It’s the beauty of CWSF. A tradition at CWSF – pin trading – also helped me to meet many people I otherwise would not have had the chance to meet. Not only did I have the opportunity to trade pins with fellow finalists from all provinces and territories, I met people who came all the way from Australia and Taiwan! It was super exciting. I still look at my pins today and remember all the new friends I made and the memories we made together.
CWSF gave me the chance to explore science and not just celebrate my own achievements, but share in the celebration of everyone’s projects. The sheer variety astounded me. From bacteria, plants, solar panels, wheelchairs, tampons, to horseshoe crabs, there was a project about anything and everything. What amazed me was how they were all so well done! Often by young finalists in Grades 7 and 8. I certainly would not have been able to carry out a Canada-Wide worthy project when I was in Grade 7 or 8, so I have immense respect for all finalists. Throughout the week, I received a well-rounded education on all things science, and I feel it has enriched me in ways that I can’t describe. I loved learning about every project.
Besides the science and the fierce competition, we had opportunities to explore Winnipeg and sightsee. I went on the tour of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, as well as a mystery/haunted tour with a special tour guide who made everything spooky and fun. I’ve always enjoyed traveling and I love that CWSF fulfilled that aspect for me. Winnipeg was beautiful. I liked having the chance to take a break during the week from all the competition and judging and simply relax, breathe in the fresh Winnipeg air, walk around the city, and soak everything in.
To top everything off, my partner Annie and I won a Manning Award. It was the biggest surprise of the week. We nominated ourselves for the Manning because it was one of two special awards that we actually qualified for. Not expecting very much, we went in with no reservations and no fear. The Manning Award has eight prizes of $500 each at CWSF, then four of those are chosen for a special Manning Award worth $4000 and a banquet in Vancouver when the award will be presented to us. Needless to say, Annie and I did not expect to win either. I think that’s partly why we won and definitely a reason why it was so surprising and awesome when we did win. I distinctly remember that on the morning of judging day, Annie and I were not sure what we would do. We asked our delegates how we should approach special awards judging day and we were told to simply go out confident and tell the judges why our project was the best for the award. With absolutely nothing to lose, we did exactly that. It paid off. We were able to convince the judges that our innovative procedure for co-culturing aerobic and anaerobic bacteria deserved a Manning. It was the greatest feeling to have all of our hard work recognized.
My week at CWSF 2009 was truly surprising and unforgettable.