Alberta regional science fair organizations anticipated the risks associated with coronavirus. As early as February 6, the board of the Calgary Youth Science Fair decided they must follow the protocols outlined by the Calgary Board of Education and the University of Calgary in case of a pandemic. At that time, Canada’s first presumptive case had only been announced a few days earlier. There were only 76 known deaths worldwide attributed to this virus and they were all concentrated in Wuhan City. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) named the disease caused by novel coronavirus – COVID-19. The speculation on what to do ramped up as the actual fair date was approaching.
Edmonton Regional was the first to cancel on March 12. This was not too surprising since they were the first fair scheduled in Alberta this year, and there was already an Alberta Government guideline to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people.
On March 15, one announcement from the Alberta Government ended all speculation: “Effective immediately, students are prohibited from attending Alberta K-12 schools & post-secondary institutions until further notice.”
The 2020 science fair season was over.
By March 18, Youth Science Canada cancelled this year’s Canada-Wide Science Fair which was to be held in Edmonton. This is the first time in 59 years that this fair has been cancelled.
To help Alberta regional science fair organizations prepare for this year’s science fairs, Genome Alberta had already sent out the award plaques and funds to help the regionals put on their fairs. As a result of the cancellations, we soon had emails coming in from the regional organizations asking how the funds should now be handled. Knowing that the regionals had already invested considerable funds to make their fairs a go, the easy decision made by Genome Alberta was for them to apply the money towards this year’s expenses and to hang onto the plaques for the 2021 Genome Alberta awards.
Genome Alberta continues to sponsor Alberta’s regional science fairs. We are proud to have been involved since 2006. Genome Alberta awards are presented to students with outstanding projects in the life sciences, and especially in genetics and genomics. A science fair is an extremely rewarding experience allowing our young scientists to showcase their scientific work. A science fair represents the public display of STEAM project-based learning. Let’s all look forward to science fair season 2021.
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