The science show must go on

Bison Regional Science Fair going digital; fair’s founder talks about pivoted annual showcase

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/04/2021 (500 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Things might look a little different on the educational landscape this year, but Dr. Anju Bajaj’s passion for learning is as strong as ever.

The St. Vital resident is a STEM educator at the St. Boniface-based Holy Cross School and is also the founder and co-ordinator of the Bison Regional Science Fair. One of the largest regional science fairs in Canada, BRSF is open to students in Grades 4 to 12 across the province.

Speaking to The Lance during the recent spring break, Bajaj is thrilled the event is going ahead virtually this year in light of the ongoing pandemic — not least because the cancellation of different fairs this year has left many students, who might have been working on their projects alone or with a partner, without a forum to showcase their ideas.

Supplied photo Dr. Anju Bajaj is the founder and co-ordinator of the Bison Regional Science Fair, which is being held virtually this spring. Bajaj is a STEM educator at Holy Cross School.

“This year has been very tough for everyone,” Bajaj said.

“We want to encourage participation in our virtual science fair, and we’re extending the invitation to all community members, who are welcome to attend. Whether our participants attend private or public schools, or are home-schooled, the more participation we can encourage, the better.”

Science fair projects require an extraordinary amount of individual focus and research into the topic of interest, Bajaj noted.

Supplied photo Praise Olowoyeye is pictured with Anju Bajaj with her science project — an analyzer for testing natural fibre quality.

“The independent thinking and research skills that students gain through this exercise are invaluable to all disciplines. Our virtual science fair strives to facilitate this connection of like-minded individuals and their ideas to help support the students in our community,” she added.

Bajaj said the virtual fair provides an excellent opportunity for enthusiastic young scientists with curious and enquiring minds who are eager to learn about the possibilities presented by STEM education — science, technology, engineering, and math — and the chance to investigate topics of personal interest to them. Another benefit is that the students receive professional feedback, as well as recognition for their efforts.

“Bison Regional Science Fair’s planning and organizing committee recognizes that this school year has been different. This year’s (fair) will also be different, as it will be a virtual fair. We want to give the young scientists of Manitoba a chance to show off their science projects, to let the world know what our youth care about, what concerns them, and what problems they wish to solve. Even though the fair will be virtual this year, we look forward to seeing and hearing about their successes in STEM,” Bajaj said.

Supplied photo Auriel Matundan is pictured with her project — a free flow hydro generator. She used recyclable and reusable materials to make the generator, which is a dynamo for converting mechanical energy into electricity.

“This is the time of the year again to reiterate our shared goal for a better society. Our mission is ‘to promote an appreciation for scientific principles and method in the youth of Manitoba by means of an annual science competition.’ With over 400 Grade 4 to 12 students from more than 20 schools in and around Manitoba, the Bison Regional Science Fair is one of the Canada’s largest science fairs. Our aim is to encourage and foster youth advancement in STEM through hands-on experimentation and research.”

Organizers will be recognizing the top projects in a number of categories — elementary (Grades 4 to 6), junior (Grades 7 and 8), intermediate (Grades 9 and 10), and senior (Grades 11 and 12). They will also be choosing the top projects from students in the Grade 7 to 12 age range, who will then be eligible to compete at the Canada Wide Science Fair, which is being held virtually between May 17 and 21.

The deadline for this year’s project submissions is April 12. Judging will take place on April 16 and 17, and the winners will be announced on April 18.

Go online at youthscience.ca/bison for more information, or to register.

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at simon.fuller@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7111.

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