On November 24th, seven seniors students represented Semiahmoo Secondary at the fourteenth annual Kwantlen Science Challenge. Sponsored by physics teacher Mr. Halabi, the event was filled with many ups and downs. However, it was ultimately a great experience for all involved. The challenge consisted of five 55 minute challenges: jeopardy, physics, biology, chemistry, and engineering design, all aimed to inspire students to pursue STEM pathways in post-secondary.
The first of the five events was science jeopardy. Modelled after the popular game show, a nail-biting two rounds ensued. Semiahmoo held a strong lead during the first round, but ultimately missed the first place finish by a mere fifty points.
Following jeopardy was the physics component; this challenge consisted of a diffraction grating spectroscopy. The students measured emitted light using a spectrometer and attempted to identify mystery gases.
As for the biology section, students performed a simulated assay to determine whether patients were infected with Lyme disease. The assay included using antigens and chromogens to evaluate samples in regard to positive and negative controls, as well as a written component. Evidently, biology proved to be one of Semiahmoo’s strong suits.
Chemistry was another area where Semi students felt confident in their abilities. Teams were tasked with determining the citric acid content of Sprite through an acid-base titration, in addition to identifying organic compounds with thin layer chromatography.
The last event of the day was the design challenge. The aim of this task was to build the fastest homemade hovercraft with only common hobby parts. Semiahmoo students tackled this objective head on, opting to construct a styrofoam base powered by two motors. However, there was some room for improvement, as the hovercraft continued to have issues on competition day.
At the end of the day:
Although the team did not place as well as prior years, the event was an enjoyable bonding experience for all students involved. The day ended with an exciting demonstration from Science World, much to the delight of participants. As the competition came to an end, Semiahmoo remains optimistic for future competitions, especially with UBC Physics Olympics this upcoming spring.
I chose to write about this topic, because the KPU Science Challenge is something I thoroughly enjoy doing each year. The event not only exposes me to new scientific theory, but also connects me with like-minded people that I otherwise may not have worked with. It is something I look forward to each fall, and I hope some readers feel the same way.