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Local high school students answer the big questions and are treated to a day of research and development

Age-old scientific questions such as What's in the air we breathe? Why do we fall in love? and Why can't we remember what happended on our first birthday? received scientific scrutiny from some of the brightest high school students in the GTA in a contest of research skills. The contest had the students submit a photograph of an object, an event or a person and then write a two-page essay describing the science in the photograph.

Six winners were named on October 24th at the annual Outstanding High School Student Science Awards, hosted by UTSC’s Department of Physical and Environmental Science (DPES). They were chosen from a pool of top submissions from 10 schools. Professor Simpson, Janet Blakely and Jennifer Caradonna evaluated the essays, and took into consideration references from science teachers and student transcripts to help make their decisions.

The six students spent the day at UTSC where they paired up with graduate students to tour the campus, conduct an experiment to find out what’s in a can of Red Bull, and attend a first year science lecture by Dr. Johann Bayer. Each took home an engraved plaque and $250.

“The purpose of the event is to expose the best high school students to a research and development environment at the earliest opportunity with the goal to instil excitement and enthusiasm for research,” says Andre Simpson, chemistry professor and director of the Environmental NMR Centre at UTSC. “We also want to provide them an award early in their career making them more competitive at the national and international level.” 

Professor Simpson initiated the program in 2008 to recognize outstanding high school students in science while strengthening ties among the university, local high schools and the private sector. Prof. Simpson now runs the program with help from Janet Blakely and Jennifer Caradonna of the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences.

Sponsorship was provided by Bruker Biospin Ltd., Geo Syntec and the office of UTSC’s VP Research.



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