Award celebrates young scientists

The hunt is on at the Ontario Science Centre for the next young agent of global change. Inaugurated in 2008, the Weston Youth Innovation Award presented by the Ontario Science Centre recognizes outstanding and innovative ideas for technological and scientific responses to the world’s most pressing issues.
Eighteen-year-old Eden Full won the award in 2009. While in her last year of high school in Calgary, Full developed her prize-winning project: a method for rotating solar panels. Full, now a student in mechanical engineering and African studies at Princeton University in the United States, put the $2,000 cash prize toward developing a prototype that she tested during field work in Kenya.
According to Full, there aren’t many awards out there targeted to young people’s contributions to scientific research and development. The emerging scientist encourages East York youth to apply and take a chance on their projects, no matter how small or how abstract they may be at this point.
“Just because you’re in high school doesn’t mean you can’t have the abilities to make your project happen,” Full said.
The award, she contends, allows for promising ideas to be taken to “the next level.”
This year’s winner, Kimberly Gulevich, found the public recognition and promotion of her project at the Ontario Science Centre gratifying. Having her work on methane-capture at rural sewage lagoons displayed alongside some of the world’s greatest scientific achievements shows an appreciation of what young people can – and have – accomplished.
“It allows people to see that youth really are doing something, not just saying they will,” Gulevich said.
Gulevich, 18, was able to use the award to help fund her first year of studies in environmental engineering at the University of Northern British Columbia.
Like Full’s and Gulevich’s projects, submissions are evaluated on a range of qualities including creativity, initiative, and collaborative consideration to the use of science and technology in response to large-scale concerns, such as renewable energies and climate change.
Applications for the award will be accepted until Feb. 14, 2011. For more information and to download an entry form, visit