Problem solving for a prize

By Taylor Weaver

April 5, 2018 8:54 AM

Grade 9 students from throughout the Border City took part in the APEGA Science Olympics last Wednesday and enjoyed making healthy competition educational with the help APEGA volunteers. PHOTO COURTESY OF APEGA

Although it was mainly bragging rights and self satisfaction, students from both the Lloydminster Public School Division and Lloydminster Catholic School Division put their minds to the test last week.
Representatives from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (APEGA) hosted the 2018 APEGA Science Olympics last Wednesday with representation from Grade 9 students from Holy Rosary High School, ES Laird Middle School, Lloyd Bishop, and College Park.
Natalie Hervieux, Outreach Coordinator with APEGA, helps plan events such as the Science Olympics for students from K-12 to help get them interested in geoscience.
“APEGA is responsible for the regulation of practices of geoscience in Alberta, so anyone who wants to practice engineering or geoscience is a member of the organization and a lot of our volunteers here today are also with APEGA.”
Hervieux explained she believes these types of events are very important because some of the things APEGA is doing is showing kids what engineering and geoscience really is, showing that it can be really fun, and that it has a positive impact on the world and in society.
“Even if they don’t go into engineering or geoscience, it’s important for them to have these problem solving skills, teamwork skills and creativity, because that’s going to help them no matter what they do in life, and I think these events help encourage all of those things.”
Hervieux added APEGA’s goal is to make sure the minds of tomorrow are exposed to these unique and fun science experiments and topics, above all have fun, while also attaining the teamwork and problem solving skills previously mentioned.
APEGA holds events similar to last week’s Science Olympics across the province at no cost to the students thanks to the help of local sponsors.
One exciting aspect of the afternoon’s three-way-tie for first came when an APEGA representative pointed out the three teams that tied actually solved the problem very similarly to the way the actual APEGA engineers solved it.
“All of the challenges we have at these events were developed by engineers and geoscientists,” she said.
“They test them, and in this case, the goal was to prevent runoff, and the engineers used spillways and techniques they’re familiar with, and the kids ended up doing basically the same thing.
“The students were allowed to interpret the problem however they had to, they just had to prevent the sugar cubes from dissolving in the water and preventing the sand from running off.”
One excited competitor was Corbin Wetsch of Team 21, who successfully completed the task with his friends and one of the three teams to tie for first.
As a Grade 9 student, this was Wetsch’s first opportunity to compete in the APEGA Science Olympics, and the experience taught him more than just about the value of teamwork.
“It feels really cool because we weren’t expecting to win it, and the fact that we were one of the winning teams out of all of these people feels really good,” said Wetsch. “We had to build a dam to stop water from melting sugar cubes that were representing agriculture, and we had to come up with the most-effective way to stop the water from destroying the agriculture.
“Teamwork was really important today. One of our partners came up with the idea, one came up with how we would choose how to solve the problem, so it took all three of us to get a really good idea at the end, so if the team was missing one of us it wouldn’t have been as good of an idea.”

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