Nathan Kuehne was at the head of the class once again, as the Glenlyon Norfolk School student won a gold medal of excellence at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Fredericton, N.B. last week.
Kuehne, still in Grade 11, was one of three Saanich students to earn a medal of excellence as Grade 12 Austin Sawyer of Lambrick Park won a bronze medal of excellence, also in the senior category, and Grade 8 Janet Dawson, of Gordon Head Middle School, earned a silver medal of excellence among the junior-level entrants.
Dawson’s mathematical presentation, which can predict the setting of the sun, also won a specialty award from the Royal Astronomical Society and a challenge award from Discovery.
It was the second win for Kuehne and his at-home diagnostic test for patients suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU). He won first at the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair in April. Among the specialized contests within the national fair, Kuehne won second in the 2015 Sanofi BioGenius B.C. competition in the area of biotechnology and “Centre for Drug Research and Development Commercialization Prize.”
“The research Nathan has completed is ground-breaking in and of itself, as he he has done this work while still attending secondary school,” said Erin Dallin, Kuehne’s chemistry teacher and mentor at GNS. “The depth of his research rivals that of post-graduate students and he has the poise and self-confidence to explain his work to a mass audience. I am in awe of what he has achieved.”
Kuehne will continue developing the project and prototype with a goal of publishing the work in a peer-reviewed journal.
Sawyer won bronze for his low-cost solutions to increase the longevity of wooden railroad ties, which included fastening a zip tag around the ends.
“I learned that the fastest cause of damage is water getting into the ties,” Sawyer said. “Water gets into cracks that are caused when the ties freeze and thaw. By ‘comforting’ the ties with a zip tag around either end, they are unable to expand when they freeze, and therefore it minimizes the cracks.”
Also competing at nationals were Saanich students Matthew Treble (Lambrick) and Andrea Chan (SMUS), and GNS students Alexander Stead and David Weaver.
The Canada Wide Science Fair is the highest level of Science Fair competition in Canada.