“We’re trying to reach a young generation and turn them onto science. We thought that if this is the generation that connects with gaming, then virtual reality would be something they would get,” said Jane Djivré, the co-ordinator of the science fair.
“We decided to use the medium of virtual reality as a vehicle to introduce kids to science and information technology.”
Students have the chance to sign up for the science fair in December. They will work on their projects for the next four months and present the projects to judges at the end of March.
They can develop projects on subjects such as mining and geology, the environment, health and safety, architecture, and statistics. They partner with university or industry mentors who are experts on the research topics.
The winner of the competition will receive various prizes and attend the Ontario Research and Education Summit.
The program was piloted last year in Timmins and other nearby northeastern Ontario communities. This year, the fair will also be open to students from the Sudbury area.
Only four projects were entered in the science fair last year, but Djivré hopes that number will go up now that students from Sudbury can participate.
The Sudbury-based Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO) is leading the program.
Other partners include Science Timmins, the Timmins Public Library and PDAC Mining Matters. The science fair is funded in part by the province’s Youth Science and Technology Outreach Program.
Alexandre Harvey, a Grade 12 student from Temiskaming Shores, was the winner of last year’s science fair.
Harvey used virtual reality technology to track the water runoff from a sawmill in Timmins.
Djivré said she hopes the science fair will encourage teens from northeastern Ontario to consider a career in the mining industry.
“We know that it’s challenging to attract people to the mining industry,” she said.
“One thing that we’ve found is that kids in high school don’t have a full appreciation of what mining offers. It’s not a single job. There’s a whole range of occupations…We’re hoping this will spark their interest in science and encourage them to discover the types of careers that are out there.”