203 inquiring minds and aspiring Einsteins
The strength of this city’s next generation of scientists will be on full display during the Hydro-Québec Montreal Regional Science and Technology Fair (MRSTF), which takes place from March 26 to 28 on Concordia’s Sir George Williams Campus.
The competition challenges English-speaking students from the Montreal area, aged 13 to 20, to present their research projects to visitors in a creative and accessible manner. It’s free of charge and open to all.
“At Concordia, we encourage new ways of sharing what we know and getting people to think about how knowledge and technological change impacts them,” says Justin Powlowski, interim vice-president of Research and Graduate Studies.
“The students participating in the science fair are getting a taste of the whats, whys and hows of research, and that can set them on a path to catalyzing changes for the better in our world. I encourage everyone to visit the fair and see the work of these exceptional young researchers.”
Eunice Linh You, the MRSTF’s inaugural Hydro-Québec Science Fair youth ambassador, knows first-hand the importance of the event. Currently a first-year medical student at McGill University, she says her interest in STEM disciplines was piqued during her six years as a science fair participant.
‘Good communication is an integral part of the scientific process’
When did you participate in the Montreal Regional Science and Technology Fair?
Eunice Linh You: I still vividly remember my first year at MRSTF in 2009. I put together a project on video gamers and reaction times in grade seven. It was a simple school activity that involved having people catch rulers, but I was hooked. It led to six more years of participation at the fair.
What are you doing now?
ELY: I am now a first-year medical student at McGill. Although research is not an extensive aspect of our curriculum, I am still involved in this realm, currently working on a few different projects in orthopedics and neurosurgery. Since participating in the science fair, I’ve also led various initiatives such as A Day in the Life of Medicine and the NeuroSymposium for students across Quebec.
What did you learn from participating in the science fair?
ELY: If I had to choose one thing, it would be communication. From pitching your ideas in front of prominent scientists, to learning how to ask for help from colleagues, to presenting your project to experts in the field, good communication is an integral part of the entire scientific process.
I also believe that what research instills — creativity, persistence and an instinct to always question and look for new ideas — are skills relevant to anybody’s personal and professional development, regardless of the field. In my case, I am sure it will shape me into a well-rounded doctor with a deeper understanding of medicine and allow me to better treat my patients.
As the fair’s inaugural youth ambassador, what advice do you have for this year’s participants?
ELY: Apart from the everyday trials of learning an unfamiliar topic while working on complex, unprecedented research, the biggest challenge lies in having the confidence to pursue your project no matter what. It is okay to feel like you do not know what you’re doing, to make mistakes and even to fail.
As a student, sometimes the most important thing you can bring to the research environment is a passionate curiosity and willingness to try out something new. As long as you keep pushing forward, learn from each mistake and are not afraid to reach out for help, you will make it.
Check out the Hydro-Québec Montreal Regional Science and Technology Fair, March 26 to 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the atrium of the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts (EV) Integrated Complex (1515 St. Catherine W.).