Rotary Algoma STEM Fair picking up steam

The CWSF 2024 team: From left, Ellery Bowman, Alexandra Bishop. Anirudh Gupta, Jonah Santa Maria and Lennon Turco.

The 35th Annual Rotary Algoma STEM Fair showcased yet again some of the efforts of local students with a keen interest in science.

The fair was held once at Algoma University’s George Leach Centre.

Thursday, the works of about 20 local students from grades seven to 12 had their projects on display. A panel of judges assessed the works and prizes awarded.

Dr. Dante Carlascio, STEM Fair Committee chair said it’s taken awhile for participation to recover after Covid.

“It’s great to see the kid’s enthusiasm,”said Dr. Carlascio. “They’re engaged. They’ll go back to their classrooms and talk to their friends about it.”

Carlascio says representatives from both school boards were on hand and hope to see the event’s recovery continue and for it to grow.

“It’s trending in the right direction,” says Dr. Carlascio.

Dan Carrier, in his fifth year as serving on the fair’s panel of judges, was happy to see the stronger turnout this year.

A Korah Collegiate trio won the top three prizes, Saturday. From left, Anirudh Gupta, won 2nd Prize for his study, ‘Effect of Orlistat Concentrations.’ Jonah Santa Maria took 3rd Prize for ‘Purity of Ethanol, and Lennon Turco took top honors for ‘Thermal Dynamics of Catalytic Decomposition.’

A University of Toronto mechanical engineering grad, Carrier says he’s amazed at the demonstrated depth of today’s students.

“I am always astounded by the knowledge of the kids and their ability to communicate on complicated topics,” said Carrier. “They seem knowledgeable beyond expectations every time. They’re super. I am absolutely impressed with what they accomplished here.”

Taylor Nieson, left, and Leah Biemann, Grade 10 students from St. Mary’s College, with their project , Happiness and Lifestyle

This year’s top prize went to Lennon Turco,for his project entitled ‘Thermal Dynamics of Catalytic Decomposition.’

“(It’s) investigating the thermal influence on the decomposition reaction of hydrogen peroxide,” explained Turco.

“It was a pretty lengthy process over a couple of weeks of designing, carrying out the lab and doing the write-up for it,” he added.

Asked about his inspiration for science, Turco said, “I’ve always been science and math-brained. I’m a big problem solver.”

Turco was also awarded The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie Award of Excellence which included prizes of $250 courtesy of the Rotary Club and $1,000 from Tenaris.

He’ll compete at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa May 25 to June 1.

A Grade 12 student at Korah Collegiate in the school’s International Baccalaureate program, Turco will be off to the University of Western Ontario in the fall where he’ll study Engineering and Business Administration. 

Jacob Dixon, left, won 2nd prize for ‘Dollar For Dirt’ in the junior projects category, with Dr. Dante Carlascio, chair of the STEM Fair Committee.

STEM award winners:

Tenaris Awards, 1st Place Projects, Junior, Alexandra Bishop

Tenaris Awards, 1st Place Projects, Intermediate: Vincent Mannarino, Perzan Umrigar, Somak Majundar

Tenaris Awards,1st Place Projects, Senior: Lennon Turco

Don Wallace Memorial Award, 2nd Place Projects, Junior, Jacob Dixon

Don Wallace Memorial Award, 2nd Place Projects, Intermediate, Gregory Zach Ybanez

Don Wallace Memorial Award, 2nd Place Projects, Senior, Anirudh Gupta

Algoma Award, 3rd Place Projects, Junior, Erin Yap

Algoma Award, 3rd Place Projects, Intermediate, Leah Biemann, Taylor Nieson

Algoma Award: 3rd Place Projects, Senior, Jonah Santa Maria

HealthGear Medical Health and Safety Award: Tia Park-Lee

Sault Naturalist Green Awards (2):  Kassandra Ranni and Ellery Bowman 

Excellence in Engineering: Andres Rausseo Baron

Excellence in Engineering: Vincent Mannarino, Perzan Umrigar, Somak Majundar

Innovative Use of Robotics: Mumeeba Rashid and Iliana Rutland

Algoma Steel Group Computer Science Award: Vincent Mannarino, Perzan Umrigar, Somak Majundar

Benjamin Cohen Memorial Trophy, 3rd Place, Best of Fair: Jonah Santa Maria

SDS Award, Excellence in Mathematics: Anirudh Gupta

Sanofi Biogenius Award, Kaylie Precepa ($100)

Algoma U. Scholarship Computer Science, Aidan Naccarato ($1,000)

Algoma U. Scholarship, Liam Perkins ($1,000)

Algoma U. Scholarship, Ellery Bowman, Biology/Environmental Science ($1,000)

University of Ottawa Scholarship, Anirudh Gupta ($1,000)

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