Prepping for Indigenous Science Fair

Budding scientists from all three Kahnawake Education Center (KEC) schools will be headed to the Quebec Indigenous Science Fair in Quebec City later this month.

“My project was about the perception of taste, so I chose a healthier alternative of a sweetener, which was maple syrup. For the less healthy option I chose processed sugar,” explained Jorja Goodleaf-Morrison, who won first prize in the grade-eight category at Kahnawake Survival School (KSS). Her project, titled “Hey sweetie, which one tastes better?” earned her a spot at the three-day science fair at Laval University in Quebec City from March 21-23.

“Both these sweeteners were separately presented and combined with green tea,” explained Goodleaf-Morrison. “During the process of providing both samples to people, I have come to find out that the majority of people preferred sample one, which was maple syrup.”

Goodleaf-Morrison’s project is one of many presented at science fairs hosted by the three KEC schools, where winners qualified for a spot at the Quebec Indigenous Science Fair.

Goodleaf-Morrison will be joined in Quebec City by grade-10 winners Brooke-Lynn Delormier and Iakorennaientátie Alfred, who worked on their study “How gross is KSS?” together.

At Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa, Iakohonstiio Currotte won the grade-five prize with “What pH is best?” and Kylen Taioronhió:te Phillips won the grade six prize for “How well is your water?”

At Kateri School, Ryan Stacey won for her project “Does stick wax make a difference?”

“I had a couple of my friends from school test out my project, and what I did is I had different amounts of hockey waxes and had them shoot at a target to see which one got closer to the bullseye,” explained Stacey. “My conclusion was that Howie’s wax was the best one – there was a lot of grip on it. It was a lot about accuracy, that was my project.”

Stacey combined her love of hockey with her passion for science in her project – something that is challenging her ahead of the Quebec Indigenous Science Fair as she works out whether or not she can attend the fair and still compete in a clashing hockey tournament. The delegation duties may instead land on second-place winner, Kaylani Delormier.

Either way, Marc Lalande, president-treasurer of the Quebec Aboriginal Science and Engineering Association (QASEA), which hosts the fair each year, said it will be one to remember, with opportunities for students to check out Laval University, where the event is taking place.

“On the first day, there’ll be activities to mix the students together. They’ll have a lot of fun on the first day. The second day though, they’ll be judged,” Lalande explained. Judges from QASEA will take a look at every student’s project and consider which is the strongest. “Then on the third day in the morning again there will be more judging, and in the afternoon there’ll be activities with a visit of the campus too.”

After deliberations, judges will announce the winners and special prizes at an evening ceremony, where speeches from organizers and elders will also be presented.

“We have five categories, and we have five special prizes,” Lalande explained. “The first prize in each category will have a $500 prize, second place will win $350, and third place $200. First place will also have a trophy for one year with their name on the trophy.”

The prospect of winning big has young scientists excited as they prepare to take the trip to present their work.

“I screamed at the top of my lungs to express excitement and triumph, then I called my mom to share the news,” said Goodleaf-Morrison. “I am just excited and absolutely flabbergasted to even think about it. I’m overjoyed about experiencing such an incredible event. I even said ‘gee golly’ approximately two seconds ago!”

For Stacey, the trip is the cherry on top of the real victory: keeping up with her brother, who also won first place in the science fair when he was at Kateri.

“That was my one thing!” laughed Stacey. “I think I was in grade four when he won, so I needed to win! That was my biggest thing!”

Lalande said that the competition is strong, but that he expects the three KEC schools to put on another great showing at this year’s fair.

“The kids from Kahnawake are really bright,” he said. “They will be proud of themselves. We want to see these students taking their place in science.”

Eve Cable, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door