Burns Lake students to participate in science fair despite pandemic-challenges

Finalists from Decker Lake Elementary and Francois Lake Elementary students to go District-level

Francois Lake Elementary school's science fair with masks and social distancing. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

Decker Lake Elementary and Francois Lake Elementary students will be participating in the annual science fair this year with several COVID-19 restrictions and measures in place.

Wendy Keleman, principal for both schools, told Lakes District News that all three intermediate classes at Decker Lake Elementary school and the two intermediate classes at Francois Lake Elementary would be participating in the upcoming Science Fair on Feb. 19 this year, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Ciomi Benoit, a grade 7 student of Decker Lake Elementary, is one such girl who exemplifies the resilience shown by the kids this year to put together the science fair despite the pandemic, according to the principal.

Benoit had initially started working on a project in January that involved testing the saliva of dogs and cats to see how much bacteria grows on their tongues however, the ethics committee denied the project as you need to have a certified lab to grow bacteria. So Benoit had to start working on a new project from scratch but to add to that, her mother, who is a teacher at Decker Lake Elementary, contracted COVID and had to isolate. Benoit also had to isolate for 14 days, being a close contact and have had to work on the project from home. A big part of her new project, titled “colour coded memory” is going to be about seeing whether colour affects memory and testing people in person, which she can’t do until she is back to school.

“When my first project got denied, I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to finish a new one but I managed to get it all organized,” said Benoit, with determination to put forth her project for the science fair and hopes that this year, she will not just go to the district-level but to the regional level.

Each year, these projects which are done individually as well as in groups, are facing another hurdle due to COVID as there has been lower or inconsistent attendance and some students are in a position where their partner is not attending school on a daily basis.

But despite these challenges, the students have been very enthusiastic about the science fair and both the schools have put in several measures in place.

For Decker Lake Elementary school, some of the changes that would be put in place are — no community-based judges and only staff judges, one class at a time will be set up in the gym on the day of the science fair as opposed to all the classes being set up up in the gym with community-based judges as was the case in previous years. Grade 4/5 class will be set up in the gym in the morning, grade 6 class will be set up after recess, grade 7 class will be set up after lunch and only one visiting class to the gym at a time would be permitted, to limit the number of people in the gym.

For Francois Lake Elementary school there would be six to eight community-based judges who will conduct their screening and judging online via the virtual platform, Teams.

“Due to the pandemic-related measures, grades 4/5 and grades 6/7 classes have had to work at separate times in the computer lab and library whereas in the past it had been very cooperative,” said Keleman.

The finalists will get to present their science projects at the District Science Fair on Feb. 25. This will also take place virtually with the selected entries getting a scheduled time slot in which to present their inquiry to a panel of virtual judges. Students will be using the Teams platform and some of them have even prepared PowerPoint presentations to showcase their science fair project.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist


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Francois Lake Elementary school’s science fair with masks, social distancing and virtual judging. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

Francois Lake Elementary school’s science fair with masks, social distancing and virtual judging. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

Francois Lake Elementary school's science fair with masks and social distancing. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

Decker Lake Elementary school's science fair. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

Decker Lake Elementary school's science fair. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

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