Lakeland students with winning entries will fly to Ottawa for a nation-wide science fair in May.

LAKELAND – On April 13, the first ever independent regional science fair was held at the Portage College campus in St. Paul. 

Hosted by the St. Paul & District STEAM Society (SPDSS), around 30 projects were on display. Students from Conseil scolaire Centre-Est, St. Paul Education, and Northern Light Public Schools participated, in addition to a project from Wisdom Homeschooling. Winners from selected categories will fly to Ottawa for the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF), hosted by Youth Science Canada from May 26 to 31.

Germinating seed in space 

Grade 9 Glen Avon School student Abeera Abbasi will be one of the local students heading to Ottawa for the national science fair. Her “AstroFlora: Engineering Plant Growth for Space Exploration” project worked on germinating basil seeds in a space condition. The project won top spot in her category.

The project, she says, is part of her research on space colonies, particularly on Mars. Through electrolysis, she split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The idea is to use oxygen for humans, and hydrogen to boost plant growth – which is what her AstroFlora project was about. 

To mimic space condition, Abbasi simulated micro-gravity inside petri-dishes where she planted seeds. She then used a UVB radiation lamp to simulate the effect of space radiation on seed germination. She wanted to use UVC radiation, but it was deemed too dangerous. 

She found, through her experimentation, that seed germination in micro-gravity did better than in Earth conditions, “Which is really surprising,” she says. 

Abbasi says her project stems from her curiosity about space. “There’s just so much we don’t know.” 

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