Grade 4 student Michel Hjelkrem from Ecole des Sept-Sommets tied for first place at a School District 20 science fair held at Trail Middle School earlier this month. The French student’s project looked into whether ice cubes melt faster in fresh water or salt water.

Grade 4 student Michel Hjelkrem from Ecole des Sept-Sommets tied for first place at a School District 20 science fair held at Trail Middle School earlier this month. The French student’s project looked into whether ice cubes melt faster in fresh water or salt water.

Fun science event inspires kids

KAST fostering a culture that values technology.

A major science celebration is set to spark children’s interests this weekend with interactive displays alongside West Kootenay students competing in a regional science fair.

“If we can catch these kids when they’re young and really inspire them to take science in high school, then they’ll still be excited about it and move onto science in post-secondary,” said Kelvin Saldern, executive director of Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST).

The non-profit organization works to foster a culture that values science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, with hopes of maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of the region.

Partnering with Selkirk College and Science World, KAST has organized a Community Science Celebration for the past five years, which runs in conjunction with the West Kootenay Regional Science Fair.

Featuring more than 60 projects from students from school districts 20, 8, 51 and 10, the regional fair is a competitive event that gives participants the chance to move onto a Canada-wide science fair. Last year’s local winners, Israel Miller and Megan Bursey from Stanley Humphries Secondary School in Castlegar, won the opportunity to take on the national challenge in Peterborough, Ont.

Looking up to young role models who are already putting their stamp in the science community, kids touring the regional competition may be motivated from their peers’ work.

This competition is not to be confused with the School District 20 Science Fair that was held this month. Supported by KAST, over 80 kindergarten to Grade 7 kids delved into science and technology with experiments like a look at which peanut butter hamsters prefer and trying to run a clock using a potato.

Though anyone can submit an entry at the regional level, many keen kids who participated at the event held at Trail Middle School will likely turn up in Nelson this Saturday.

Connecting the student event with a science celebration also bridges the gap between studying sciences at an academic level to making a career out of it.

The Community Science Celebration will feature hands-on educational displays submitted by about 25 organizations from the West Kootenay, including Firebird, FortisBC and Teck. Many of these science-savvy organizations also provide financial backing.

Focusing on zinc metal production, the Teck Trail Operations booth is an interactive display that will show visitors how zinc concentrate is turned to metal, and how the metal Teck produces is used in everyday products. “Visitors will also learn how zinc plays a vital role in children’s health, and how Teck has partnered with the zinc industry and UNICEF to provide zinc supplements to children living in zinc-deficient regions of the world through the Zinc Saves Kids initiative,” explained Teck spokesperson Carol Vanelli Worosz.

“This annual celebration demonstrates just how exciting career opportunities in science and technology can be, as well as showcasing how science is involved in every aspect of our daily lives. How we do what we do at Trail Operations is all based on science and we welcome attendees to come to our booth and see just that.”

More than 2,500 people attended last year’s event, which also offers fun activities for kids like a popsicle bridge competition. Including more than 90 bridges last year, the winning bridge held a maximum load of approximately 118 kilograms and was built by a 10-year-old.

The Community Science Celebration and the West Kootenay Regional Science Fair will be held at Selkirk College on 10th Street in Nelson. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., with judging of the regional competition underway in the morning and public viewing open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Science World will be putting on three shows during the day at noon, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.