Ryan was given a special award yesterday at school. From last fall until late January, he was part of a four-student team working on a project called Exploravision. It’s an international science competition, where students have to research current technology and then use their imaginations to design some kind of future technology, outlining things like what it will do, why it’s better than the current technology, what other sorts of technology need to be invented / expanded in order for this to work, that kind of thing. A parent of one of Ryan’s classmates wanted to enter both of his daughters in the contest, and decided to be the team’s coach. He recruited a family friend to be on the team, and then asked his daughter’s teacher (who’s also Ryan’s teacher) for a suggestion on a fourth person, and she recommended Ryan. The team met after school and on weekends, and the idea they came up with was a system to more efficiently apply sunscreen using nanotechnology. They researched the history of sunscreen, skin cancer, the light spectrum, nanotechnology, and other related topics on the web, and even visited McMaster University to visit with some nanotechnology researchers. They got to visit a clean room and laboratory, and use one of the most powerful electron microscopes in the world. It was an amazing experience for all the kids — the whole project, not just the visit to Mac.
Ryan and the team had a lot of fun with this project, and out of thousands of entries from across the US and Canada, their team placed in the top 10% and was given an honourable mention. They each got a framed certificate and a prize (a pair of compact binoculars) from Toshiba, who sponsors the event. Ryan was very excited about the award (we wanted it to be a surprise, so didn’t tell him about it, though I’m sure he was wondering why we were at an assembly at his school), and Gail and I are beyond proud (I’m even misting up a little writing this entry, but don’t tell anyone). Many thanks to the team’s coach Greg Hodgins and Ryan’s teacher Barb MacLeod for all their hard work.