This year, virtually all science fairs in Canada will be virtual. In an April 2020 blog post (1), I noted that Youth Science Canada (YSC) had developed an Online STEM Fair as a “showcase for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects that reflect the curiosity and creativity of Canadian youth
.” After that ‘beta testing’, YSC announced it was proceeding with a fully online Canada-Wide science fair for 2021 which I described in an October 2020 blog post (2). Six of the eight Alberta Regional science fair organizations have committed to hold their own virtual science fairs. Understandably, some of the details are still in the development stage. In the table below, I present the announced details of Alberta’s affiliated regions for 2021.
Virtual science fairs are not a new concept. Some form of online science fairs seemed to start as early as there was an internet to connect schools. The real traction in online science competition ran between 2011 and 2018 when Google teamed up with Lego, Virgin Galactic, National Geographic, and Scientific American to sponsor the Google Science Fair. It is interesting to note that Hayley Todesco, a former Genome Alberta award winner, was also the 2014 Google Science Fair's regional winner for Canada. In 2020, the Southern Alberta Technology Council organized Alberta’s first virtual science fair (3). The two Genome Alberta award winners from that event were Sofia Martinez (École Agnes Davidson) and Abbott Thomson (Magrath Junior High). They both received real plaques and real cash awards from Genome Alberta.
The Canada-Wide science fair which will run May 17 – 21 (4) is built on a platform originally designed as an interactive place for engineers to post projects for review and discussion. It has now been shared with affiliated regions and opened up for students in parts of the country where there is no region operating this year. Some regions have completely developed their own method of hosting a virtual science fair depending upon how their school divisions are presenting online learning with such services as ZOOM, Google Apps for Education, YouTube, and Microsoft Education.
It will be an exciting science fair season. Genome Alberta is pleased to continue our awards program which recognizes our young scientists. We know that many of the winners from the past have continued making meaningful scientific contributions and having very strong STEM careers.
Links of Interest:
(1) Science Fair Season goes Online
(2) Science Fairs in the Pandemic
(3) Lethbridge Regional Science Fair goes virtual
(4) Canada-Wide Science Fair 2021
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