Some of the projects sounded PhD-worthy, such as the one helpfully entitled Identification and Functional Characterization of Putative Phosphorylation Sites on Scleraxis.
Some were close to home, like the project by two Peguis First Nation students who studied nutrient levels in their own Fisher River.
Some sounded tasty, like the experiment to determine which beverage has the most electrolytes. Turns out, the Winnipeg Jets are right -- it's coconut water, not Gatorade.
Some were just plain awesome, such as the project that aimed to figure out which weird font worked best as a memory aid. The much-maligned Comic Sans emerged the winner, as illustrated by a real-life bar graph made of Lego.
Those were some of the 350 projects created by 455 students at this year's provincial science fair, officially called the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium. The 43rd annual fair at the University of Manitoba attracted 50 more students than last year from 10 new schools, said co-chairwoman and science teacher Andrika Tittenberger.
She said she was most struck by the number of students who displayed practical, problem-solving smarts, including the one who tackled a self-charging electrical car or the student who built a heater from old pop cans painted black to absorb solar energy.
Kristin Smith, a 14-year-old student at Balmoral Hall who took home one of the six top prizes, explored the link between depression and iron deficiency among women.
Her project, called Iron Ladies, was inspired by her aunt, who suffers from an iron deficiency and had the blues. Smith, with the help of her doctor father, studied nearly two-dozen women who also suffered from low iron levels to see if supplements boosted their mood, their work levels and their general quality of life.
Though she cautioned, like any careful scientist, that her results need to be verified with a larger, randomized, double-blind study, Smith's finding were startling. After the women began taking extra iron, their moods improved by 52 per cent, their work levels increased by a third and their quality of life got better, as well.
Smith said her findings suggest doctors treating women suffering from depression should be careful to check iron levels. The flip side is true, as well. Women with low iron levels ought to be aware depression and work impairment could be a symptom.
"The two go hand in hand," she said.
Given the sophistication of her project, does Smith intend to be doctor?
"Absolutely," she said. "Ever since I was four years old."
Michael Xu, who just graduated from St. John's-Ravenscourt and is heading to university this fall, was also one of the top winners for his project on circulating cancer cells, the ones shed into the blood, which can mean more trouble for a patient.
Working with his mentor at the U of M, Xu looked specifically at telomeres, located at the end of each chromosome, which could act as a break on the growth of cancer cells.
Xu hopes his research will one day help create an early-detection system for prostate cancer.
"Hopefully it can become a diagnostic tool," said Xu, who is not sure yet what he'll study in university, though biochemistry seems like a possibility.
Smith and Xu are among six top winners who will now head to the national science fair, slated for next month in Windsor, Ont. Manitoba students tend to clean up at the national science fair. Last year, local scientists brought home a gold medal, two silvers and two bronzes.
Xu took home the national gold medal last year and hopes for a repeat this time.
CATEGORY AWARD RESULTS
Best Biological, Animal Science
Elementary: Marko Trochanowski, École MacNeill, Penguin Facts.
Junior: Alex Roth, École River Heights, How Does Sociality Affect Trapability in African Ground Squirrels?
Intermediate: Jeanette Reyes, Sisler High School, Anti-bully.
Best Biological, Plant Science
Elementary: Jerah Palsis, Holy Ghost School, How Do Diffrent Soils Affect Plants?
Junior: Deanna Kleinsasser, La Barriere Crossing, How Aspirin Effects Plant Growth.
Intermediate: Dennis Drewnik, Sisler High School, Identification of Gene Regulatory Networks Controlling Host-Pathogen Interactions.
Elementary: Milan Lukes, École St. Avila, Genetics & Growing Giant Pumpkins — Do Genetics Help in Growing The Big One?
Junior: Mackenzie Zagozewski, Dr. George Johnson Middle School, How Do Video Games Effect Us?
Intermediate: Michaela Cardamone, Acadia Junior High, Bacteria Wars: Home vs. School
Senior: Alice Yu, St John’s Ravenscourt, Development of Nanoparticle-Based BMP4 SiRNA Formulation for Liver Fibrosis.
Elementary: Brooke Kozielec, Linden Christian School, Chlorine! Are You Ruining My Swimsuit?
Junior: Hannah Jonker, Dr. George Johnson Middle School, A Recipe for Cleaning.
Intermediate: Geemitha Ratnayake, Acadia Junior High, Determination of 4(5)-Methlyimidazole in Carbonated Beverages.
Senior: Dareen El-Sayed, Kelvin High School, The Anti-Diabetic Activity of Hulled Hemp Seeds through the Inhibition of Alpha-Glucosidase.
Best Consumer Science
Elementary: Nathan Cook, École J.B. Mitchell, Does Soda Lose Carbonation in Hot or Cold Temperatures?
Junior: Matthew Duncan, St John Brefeuf, Burning Calories.
Intermediate: Yunfei Tian, Acadia Junior High, Sugar Quantities in Milk Varieties.
Elementary: Preston Dresser, Linden Christian School, The Groovin’ Ground Effect.
Junior: Mackenzie Wong, Grant Park High School, Monofilament-Based Artificial Muscle.
Intermediate: Dirk Page, Oak Park High School, The Science of Magnetic Levitation.
Senior: Yoonsik Park, Fort Richmond Collegiate, Design and Construction of a Functional Active Noise-Cancellation System
Best Environmental & Earth Science
Elementary: Sumika Raban, École J.B. Mitchell, Conserve and Save.
Junior: Karol Velandia, Acadia Junior High, Active Metals 2.
Intermediate: Matthew Condappa, Nisichawayasihk Neo Ohtinwak Collegiate, Watered by the Sun.
Best Health Science
Elementary: Melodie LePage, Kidnetics Energy Girls, Moisturizers: Which Works Best?
Junior: Kristin Smith, Balmoral Hall School, Iron Ladies.
Intermediate: Haroon Rashid, Shaftesbury High School, Higher expression of Toll-like Receptors and HIV-Target Cell Chemoattractants in Endocervical Mucosa.
Senior: Abhinav Dhingra, Fort Richmond Collegiate, Ellagic Acid-Induced Alterations in Mitochondrial Dynamics Inhibit Cancer Proliferation.
Elementary: Micah Schroeder, Linden Christian School, Does The Temperature Of A Hockey Puck Affect How Far It Travels And How High It Bounces?
Junior: Adelle Rawluk, Holy Cross, The Physics of Sychronized Swimming.
Best Biological Science Group - Elementary
Caden Beilner, Steffa Fridfinnson, Angus McKay School, Beans Gone Bananas - Producing a banana bioproduct that is an effective fertilizer
Best Biological Science Group - Junior
Veronica Elkins, Kiersten Zueff, Ecole River Heights, Le Projet de GlycÈmie
Best Biological Science Group - Intermediate
Anson Chan, William Kong, Acadia Junior High, Which method is the best way for sanitizing finger tips and under finger nails?
Best Biological Science Group - Senior
Ankit Bahl, Sachin Vijayan, St Maurice School, The relationship between Acceleration and Vibrations of the knee
Best Physical Science Group - Elementary
Ava Stokke, Sophia Harms, Ecole Robert H Smith, Teatime
Best Physical Science Group - Junior
John Shehata, Nathan Mathews, Acadia Junior High, Evaporating Snowplower
Best Physical Science Group - Intermediate
Nik Richards, Mukul Pruthi, Acadia Junior High, Periodic Table of Elements web App
Best Physical Science Group - Senior
Mengjie Qu, Himesh Ghimire, Fort Richmond Collegiate, Enamel Protection: Observing the Effects of Everyday Beverages and Oral Care Products on Eggshells
Best Biological Science Individual - Elementary
Abdullah Rashid, Van Wallegham, Comparison of Vitamin C and Echinacea Angustifolia as immune system boosters
Best Biological Science Individual - Junior
Alyssa Woodland, Linden Christian School, Can My Self Formulated Fish Food Provide a Sustainable Eco-System - Aquaponics - A Sustainable Answer
Best Biological Science Individual - Intermediate
Iqra Sahar Tariq, Balmoral Hall School, Exploring the antimicrobial activity of Kalonji and Methi in comparison to pharmaceutical antibiotic
Best Biological Science Individual - Senior
Ryan Wang, St John's Ravenscourt, Identification and Functional Characterization of Putative Phosphorylation Sites on Scleraxis
Best Physical Science Individual - Elementary
Noah Davidson, Bruce Middle School, To Cork or Not to Cork: Does Corking a Baseball Bat Affect How Far it Can Hit a Ball
Best Physical Science Individual - Junior
Justin Cheng, Acadia Junior High, Are you eating Toxic Fish? The difference in the amount of total mercury in different parts of Manitoba
Best Physical Science Individual - Intermediate
Josh Mathews, Acadia Junior High, Examining Triclosan's Role in Generating Resistant Bacteria from Commercial Products
Best Physical Science Individual - Senior
Amanda Wong, Grant Park High School, Constructing a Multitouch Camera Based Touchscreen
Best Overall Group - Elementary
Katie Skwarchuk, Adrienne Andres, Van Wallegham, Good for the brian or just a pain?
Best Overall Group - Junior
Wynonna Mendoza, Allie Skwarchuk, Ecole River Heights, Can We Use Plants to Control the Amount of Phosphorus in Lake Winnipeg?
Best Overall Group - Intermediate
Robin Rai, Anthony Sze , Fort Richmond Collegiate, Indole-3-Carbinol Sensitizes Brain Tumour Cells to Radiation
Best Overall Group - Senior
Alexandre Poersch, Jacob Booth, Shaftesbury High School, SHARP Arduino System