Burnaby twins organize virtual science fair with $2 million in prizes

Four youths from across Canada – including two from Burnaby - presented more than $2 million in scholarships, awards, internships and trips to the top-200 high school finalists in Canada, the United States and Mexico at the first-ever North American virtual science fair.

The virtual Inspo Research and Innovation Competition for youths from Grade 8 to 12 (or equivalent) was held recently.

When Burnaby North Secondary School twins Vanessa and Claire Scrimini bounced around the idea of a virtual science fair with high school students Om Agarwal in Ontario and Peter Zhu in New Brunswick – a time when science fairs were being cancelled due to COVID-19 - they had expected a lot of interest from students who were now going to be denied the opportunity to compete in a science fair.

Each of them were past science fair participants and in fact had met at the Taiwan International Science Fair competition in February 2020.

The competition, open to students from across North America, drew over 400 submissions. The top-200 innovators and young scientists presented their STEM project to industry leaders and university professors from July 8-21. Top projects included the discovery of pulsar glitch morphology and glitching pulsar populations, and the creation of a low-cost device for automated offline medical analysis. The recipients were awarded best in fair for their age category which includes an all-expense paid trip to an international science fair (when safe), $25,000 scholarships, a program bursary, etc.

“It was a lot of work for the four of us to pull this virtual competition together, but it was well worth it! It was phenomenal to meet youth across North America who are passionate about science and are doing some amazing work,” said Vanessa, who along with Claire has medalled at international and national science fair competitions in the past.

Claire also noted that they were inspired also by the STEM community.

“This is the first-ever virtual science fair competition in North America and the first time that we, high school students have ever done anything like this, but the support and generosity from the community has been amazing,” said Claire.

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