Bison Regional Science Fair Honors Students for Science Ingenuity and Excellence
April 29, 20222022 Bison Regional Science Fair winners (l/r) Jed Borillo, Jagdeep Gill and Stephanie Christle. Anju Bajaj (centre). Photo courtesy George Photography.
Now in its 5th year, the Bison Regional Science Fair, sponsored in part by Genome Prairie, is paving the road for the next generation of discovery in the Prairies.
The 5th annual Bison Regional Science Fair (BRSF), bringing together the best and brightest future researchers and scientists from Manitoba, was held this April in Winnipeg. Sponsored in part by Genome Prairie, the fair encourages elementary and high school students to develop skills related to the scientific method while celebrating curiosity and innovation.
The winning projects were submitted online and chosen by a panel of judges. The competition was open to Grade 4 to 12 students from Catholic, Independent, and home-based schools in Manitoba.
This year’s Best Project and Senior Award went to Jagdeep Singh, from The University of Winnipeg Collegiate. Other winners were Jed Borrilo, from St. Paul High School in Winnipeg and Stephanie Christle from Holy Cross School of St. Boniface.
The science fair winners will now compete at the national science fair event, which is being held virtually this May in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The top three competitors from the national event will enter the international science event, tentatively scheduled for Mexico later this year.
Dr. Anju Bajaj, the organizer of the fair, said that while the COVID pandemic impacted participation levels, the event still had a big response from students.
“Because of the pandemic, our numbers are a bit lower this year, but we still had more than 250 submissions,” said Bajaj, who is also the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educator and vice-principal at Holy Cross School in St. Boniface.
Bajaj, who in 2021 received the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence which acknowledges the top educators in Canada, said students from nearly every corner of the province participated in the fair. “We had projects from northern Manitoba and projects from numerous indigenous communities.”
The Bison event already had a significant record of achievement. In 2019, a Grade 8 student from Holy Cross School won a spot at the world finals in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Because of the pandemic, student project presentations were done virtually. “Before the pandemic, we had the event in one place, usually in a huge gym, and students presented their project in person,” said Bajaj.
“Since the pandemic, we developed an online platform project board for students to upload their science projects to present and uploaded a two-minute video.”
While student presentations were online, the fair’s award ceremony was held at Holy Cross School. Racquel Baert, Project Manager at Genome Prairie, was at the ceremony to greet the competition winners.
“In ten or fifteen years from now, these young people will be shaping the country. I like to always tell the students that one day what they do will affect my life,” said Bajaj. “They might be a surgeon, or dentist or an engineer or prime minister. The science fair helps them to make their life choices to get there.”
Bajaj said the event’s success relies on its sponsors, who fund prizes and transportation expenses. “We don’t have a Canada Wide Science Fair registration fee. Students earn their spot to go to the Canada Wide Science Fair with the rigorous process of judging and presenting their science projects to judges and our community members.”
“Sponsorship is important - it helps a lot. Everyone involved in organizing and judging the event is a volunteer. When sponsors support us, we are keeping more young people curious, shaping their minds, and keeping them engaged.”
“The fair is non-profit and volunteer-based. Every day, we see our volunteers stepping up, whether board members, committee members, or general members.”
“Every volunteer is a blessing for us because without their selfless donations of time and energy, the fair would not be where it is today.”
Bajaj is already eagerly anticipating the 2023 event, which she expects will be held in person for the first time since 2019.
“My hopes are super high for next year. I really can’t wait to do it face-to-face. I’m missing the joy, the laughter, the giggling, the smiling, the sharing, and the presenting. I’m missing the community gathering when people come together and talk and learn from other projects. Online projects just aren’t the same thing.”
And what motivates Bajaj to spend countless hours organizing the event while teaching?
“I do it because it’s my passion. It’s my love of science that brings me back every year.”
“For me to teach is to influence every child entrusted in your care to become better and happier because life becomes more meaningful. To teach is to help a child become more human. Aspire to Inspire until you respire. Keep learning!”