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Outstanding High School Student Science Award winners get to experiment at UTSC

André Simpson shows the students the results of their analysis

Not many people get to use University of Toronto Scarborough’s cutting-edge Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Lab. But for eight lucky high school students, Red Bull was their golden ticket.

The group, composed of this year’s Outstanding High School Student Science Award winners, analyzed the popular caffeinated drink as part of a hands-on campus visit at UTSC on October 14.

The program was started by chemistry professor André Simpson last year to afford the students the opportunity to be exposed to cutting-edge research at an early age. Simpson, the Director of the Environmental NMR Centre for the Physical and Environmental Sciences Department, said the program also allows graduate students to be involved in outreach, connect to the next generation and inspire long-term interest in research.

“Scientists often forget what science is like in high school,” he said. “And doing this kind of experiment at the high school level—it’s unheard of.”

This year’s award recipients were Jennifer Duan, Francesca Fernandes, Kunihiro Ito, Sandy Li, Cody Malloy, Andrew Rolko, Julian Romagnino and Penny Zhang. The number of award recipients doubled in 2010 from the inaugural year.

The winners all received $250, a certificate and a tour of campus. But for many, the visit to the lab was the biggest highlight of all.

Rolko, a Grade 12 student at Senator O’Connor, described the process and analysis of the Red Bull sample to be ‘like CSI on crack.’

“To be able to analyze anything and get its chemical makeup, that’s pretty sweet,” he said.

Additional funding for this program came from the Ontario Research Fund and Bruker Canada. Special thanks go to Professor & Vice-Principal Research, Malcolm Campbell; Bruker Canada President Dr. Henry Stronks; Chair, Department of Physical & Environmental Science, Dr. Bill Gough; and graduate student mentors Brent Paulter, Gwen Woods, Vinci Hung and Hussain Massoon.

View a photo gallery of the event.

© University of Toronto Scarborough