A pair of young Yukoners presented some of the best science projects in the country and were recognized with medals from the 2023 Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF).
Evan Howells, a Grade 11 student at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School, and Hanna Ryan, who attends Grade 7 at Jack Hulland Elementary School, both won bronze medals at the science fair held in Edmonton in May.
Howells’ bronze medal was for his work submitted in the senior category for Grade 11 and 12 students. His project was titled: Flight of the Bumble Bee: Comparing pollen foraging patterns of bumblebees and honey bees in Yukon.
This is the first time a Yukon student has won a bronze medal in the senior category.
Howells studied the pollen foraging patterns of native bumble bees and honey bees in the Yukon’s Southern Lakes. The result is the first study comparing their foraging habits in these natural landscapes. His findings showed the bees made similar choices for the five varieties of plants they collected pollen from: Slender Beardtongue, Yukon Beardtongue, Goldenrod, Northern Oxytrope and Fireweed. Notably, bumblebees collected a more diverse load of pollen on most of their foraging trips.
It is hoped that the information from Howells’ study will help guide management practices for landscaping and beekeeping to maintain local native bumble bee populations and raise awareness of their needs. He suggested that Yukoners can make their properties bee-friendly by planting diverse Yukon native flowers that bloom at different times and by avoiding the use of pesticides.
“Participating in the Canada-Wide Science Fair was an incredible opportunity,” Howells said.
“I met lots of new friends, explored new interests and tried many new things. Winning a bronze medal was validation for all the hard work I had put in over many years to complete my science fair project. The CWSF is very competitive at the senior level so I was honoured that my project was recognized.”
Ryan, the other Yukon medal winner, was awarded in the category for Grade 7 and 8 students. Her project set out to answer an outwardly simple question: What’s the best way to dry your hands?
Her research didn’t so much deal with how to get hands the driest or dry them the fastest but which method would leave the least bacteria behind. She collected bacteria from the hands of her classmates to see if paper towel, hand towel or air drying left the least bacteria behind. Following several trials, Ryan’s experiment found that the hand towel left the least amount of bacteria.
“Going to CWSF was an eye-opening experience to see where STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] can take you,” Ryan said.
“I am going to continue working towards future science fair projects because the week was a great experience. One of my highlights was seeing what the other finalists were capable of. There were amazing projects and ideas from kids across Canada that have the possibility to make a big impact in Canadians’ lives.”
Ryan found that simply attending CWSF is an accomplishment in itself but winning a bronze medal made it even better.
Contact Jim Elliot at email@example.com
Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to both types of bees studied in Evan Howells’ project as bumble bees. In fact it was studying the difference between habits of bumble bees and honey bees.