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Young scientists study oceans, find alkynes of trouble

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Troy Shantz

Annabelle Rayson has figured out what’s happening to the world’s oceans.

She and her Grade 5 partner Lanna Iacobelli added controlled amounts of carbon dioxide to a water supply and monitored how the conditions changed.

“As the carbon goes up so does the PH, so the water gets more acidic,” said Rayson, who added that no aquatic life was harmed in the experiment.

“We like looking around and seeing things in the world that we might fix. “

Rayson and Iacobelli, 11-year-old students at St. Anne elementary, were among 94 young scientists who put sweat equity into their research at last year’s Lambton County Science Fair. The pair won the Enbridge Best Ecology Project award in the Exhibitor Division, and the Tecsar Innovation and Teamwork award.

They’re planning to build on that project at this year’s fair, now in its 44th year.

“It’s still in early stages but we have a few ideas. But yes, it’s related to problems going around on the earth,” said Rayson, hinting oil spills might be involved this time around.

Projects with a global theme are common among fair participants, said Peter Smith, one of the organizers.

“You find environmental issues quite high on the list. They’re thinking about these issues, long before they’re in a position to do anything about them. They’re aware about them.”

Seventy-four projects graced the fair in 2016, and Smith expect about the same number this year.

“It gives students an opportunity to do this on their own. It’s not driven by a teacher,” he said.

“It’s very different than the kind of thing they do at school on a day-to-day basis.”

The fair is scheduled for April 7 and 8 at the Lambton College gymnasium, with categories for Grades 3 to 12.

Participants compete for over $5,000 in prizes, with Intermediate and Senior level winners also eligible to qualify for the Canada-Wide Science Fair May 14 to 20 in Regina.

Prizes are a nice motivator but there are other benefits to participating, Rayson said.

“It gives you people skills so you can talk to people and explain things without having stage fright,” she said.

“It’s so worth going in even if you don’t win.”



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