Local students to compete against Canadaís best at national science fair

By Greg McNeil Cape Breton Post
Thur., May 10, 2007

SYDNEY - Bet you didnít know there were fish living in the tar ponds, or that an innovative device has been developed at the local level to shorten recovery time from a broken leg.

What may be most surprising to learn is these are projects developed by students for their science fair. The findings are the work of Mike MacIsaac, Todd Mercer and Sheralynne Deveaux, who will show their projects to a national audience at the Canada Wide Science Fair beginning Saturday in Truro.

A fourth local entrant, Erin McKenna, will present some interesting findings on childrenís television programming.

The four earned the right to compete against more than 450 students at the national fair by grabbing top honours at the Cape Breton Regional Science Fair in March.

"It is a great experience for anyone interested in science," said Deveaux, a Grade 12 student at Riverview Rural High School in Coxheath, whose project compared fish living in the tar ponds to those swimming in River Ryan. "Iíve learned a lot of skills through it ó everything from dedication to working hard and persistence. There is quite a lot to be learned socially and academically."

Mercer and MacIsaac, Grade 10 students at Riverview, invented a leg brace. "It relieves pressure from your feet, so if you break one of the bones in your lower leg and need to use crutches this will shorten the amount of time you have to use crutches," said Mercer.

McKenna, a Grade 9 student at Malcolm Munroe Junior High, studied the educational values of childrenís programming. Her comprehensive evaluation system gave top marks to Dora The Explorer and Sesame Street.

Fairs were brought back to the local area in 2004 by teacher True Burke. She said the competition helps students learn many skills including those needed for university. "They need good presentation skills, you need to learn to be more confident because you have to present your project to judges and science people. It is a good opportunity."

Burke said the four heading to the national competition will meet new friends, be exposed to cultural activities and have the opportunity to win large scholarships.

gmcneil@cbpost.com