BVG Student-Scientists Shine at Regional Competition 

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It is one for the school record books! 
“Compared to previous years, this is the highest percentage of medal winners, and the most ‘awards’ as well,” says Andrew Vivian, Science teacher at Bayview Glen School (BVG), describing this year’s results at the Toronto Science Fair. 

A contingent of five BVG Prep School students — all in Grade 8 — earned two gold, one silver and one bronze medal during the competition held in early April. 

“The results are thrilling, but we didn’t ask these students to go in the hopes that they would win medals and earn awards, but rather because we thought it would be a great experience for them,” adds Vivian, who has been a teacher at BVG for more than 25 years. “The winning of stuff is just a bonus!” 

Participants and results include: 

Riya Varia: Gold medal, Ontario Water Environment Association Award, and the University of Toronto Department of Earth Sciences Mathew Shawn McConville Award (each $150). 

Stefano Edwards: Gold medal, Young Scientist Award ($100) 

Cindy (Xin Yu) Yan: Silver medal 

Mikaela MacKinnon: Bronze medal 

Armaan Chandarana: Participant 

“When they called my name as one of the gold medal recipients, I was overjoyed,” says Riya Varia, Grade 8 student. “I really appreciate that my project was recognized and found interesting by not only me but by others as well!” 

Riya began working on her project in October and was informed in late February that she would be participating in the competition. 

“The students chosen to participate in the Toronto Science Fair all find science fascinating,” continues Vivian. “They all have that curiosity about how things work, and ‘why does this result in that’. They are also highly self-disciplined about being organized and detail-oriented. Additionally, their projects all had a novel practical application in today’s world.” 

Project themes ranged from Filtering Heavy Metals from Water using Natural Materials to examining Wind Turbine Spin Speeds

“My science project examined natural ways to filter heavy metals from water, specifically using seashells and cilantro,” says Riya. I’ve always been interested in the global water crisis especially since my mom is originally from Bangladesh and mentioned that many parts of her home country still lack access to clean water,” says Varia. “I learned that seashells and cilantro are natural ways to reduce heavy metal contaminants (specifically lead and iron) from lake water. Additionally, seashells were more effective than cilantro in filtration. I also learned the importance of following the scientific process, and I especially enjoyed diving deeper into the chemistry behind seashell filtration!” 

After cancellation of the 2020 Toronto Science Fair due to the global pandemic, and experiencing an entirely virtual event in 2021, the in-person event held at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, was a welcome learning opportunity. 

“What was also striking was the strong presentation skills of the students,” says Vivian, who also teaches French. “Due to circumstances these past few years, the presentation component of the Science Fair has become a more integral part of the unit. So, it isn’t just about knowing your science, it is also about developing the skills to clearly present your work to an audience.” 

The organization behind the Toronto Science Fair is a combination of four different science fairs, each with a history of more than 30 years. The regional event brings together students and potential future scientists, divided by age group — from JK to Grade 12. 

Adds Vivian, “I am proud of how they were all thrilled to be able to participate, found the workshops fascinating, and handled themselves so well with no parent or teacher presence allowed!”