April 29, 2024

Calgary Youth Science Fair puts spotlight on future generation’s scientific innovations

Futuristic brain-computer interface idea among high school projects showcased at the Oval
Overhead view of rows of poster projects at CYSF
There were 618 poster projects at this year's science fair. Samantha Lafleur, Communications

A promising idea for improving brain-computer interfaces was the top winner at the recent 2024 Calgary Youth Science Fair (CYSF), the largest of its kind in Canada. 

The annual fair, held April 11 to 13 at the University of Calgary’s Olympic Oval, invited students from Grades 5 to 12 to compete with their scientific inventions and innovations.  

The CYSF saw a number of budding scientists and entrepreneurs receive recognition for their innovations, including one that sounds like science fiction, but is close to becoming science fact.

Daniil Tyurin, a Grade 10 student from Joane Cardinal-Schubert High School, received the $2,500 University of Calgary Chancellor and Senate Award, given to the best overall participant. 

Tyurin’s project explored how ultra high-precision brain-computer interface devices could be developed using ultrasound and piezoelectric crystals, a crystal used in a variety of consumer products to generate an electric charge. He was inspired to take on this project through Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, and the popular video game Cyberpunk 2077, both of which incorporate brain-computer interfaces.

“I think that just the area of research is really interesting, as the properties behind the crystals and the ultrasound waves are super cool,” says Tyurin. “Not only this, but I think brain-computer interfaces are an interesting potential future for the development of better-integrated people with technology, and it is a very promising next step in technology.”  

The fair’s second day featured a series of UCalgary speakers who presented on their individual journeys within the sciences. This included Juliana Cyr, BA’07, lab manager for the Human Performance Lab; Joseph Madamesila, BSc’15, MSc’21, who is a current PhD student doing his project on whether AI can detect brain cancer earlier using diffusion MRI; and Dr. Rachel Lauer, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Earth, Energy and Environment with the Faculty of Science. Asha Nenshi Nathoo, co-chair of the UCalgary Chancellor’s Club ambassadors, current political science student and prior CYSF participant, was the MC.  

A total of 15 faculties and units donated more than 30 prizes for the university-sponsored raffle that followed the speaker series, showing support for youth science.

At the fair, students were able to roam the Oval and check out fellow students’ projects. The Schulich School of Engineering was also represented with displays of a robotic arm, the Schulich racing car and 3D printers. There was even a bit of history to be learned as UCalgary’s Libraries & Cultural Resources was on hand with a vintage coin collection on display.

Tyurin encourages future fair participants to embrace failure while experimenting. 

“(Don’t) get discouraged by unsuccessful ventures or failed experiments, because that, in many ways, is the nature of advancement,” he says. “The only place to go from failure is to win, and the best thing that you could possibly do for yourself is to keep on trying until eventually you do succeed, because you will most certainly run into a lot of roadblocks throughout your pursuit of science, and the most important part is to keep trying.”  

Tyurin adds fairs like CYSF are essential in creating future scientists. “Whether we like it or not, science is the future, it is the future of everything we will do as a united peoples,” he says. “It is needed everywhere, and encouraging the scientists of tomorrow using science fairs and science competitions is crucial for the adequate development of a generation excited about research.”   

UCalgary has supported the fair for more than 10 years and was a Platinum sponsor this year. 

UCalgary Chancellor Jon Cornish says events like CYSF, which this year attracted 870 students with a total of 618 projects and passed out 138 awards, build a love for science in young people.

“The University of Calgary is proud to partner with the CYSF in an event that encourages such creativity and a love of science among students,” says Cornish. “These young innovators are the embodiment of entrepreneurial thinking — taking initiative, being resourceful and learning from experience. We are honoured to support their journey.”  

For updates and information on the next CYSF, visit the web page.

The Calgary Youth Science Fair Society (CYSFS) is a 100-per-cent volunteer-run charitable organization that encourages discovery, ignites imagination, and inspires youth brilliance in our future leaders and innovators. As Canada's entrepreneurial university, UCalgary is proud to support organizations like CYSFS that foster entrepreneurial thinking by encouraging initiatives, exchanging knowledge across disciplines, being resourceful and learning from experiences. 

The following faculties, departments and units generously contributed items and prizes for students at the CYSF: Arnie Charbonneau Institute, Innovate Calgary, Schulich School of Engineering, Cumming School of Medicine, Faculty of Nursing, University Bookstore, Faculty of Kinesiology, Vice-Provost (Student Experience), Dinos, Hunter Hub, Faculty of Science, Vice-President Research Office, Undergraduate Recruitment, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and Graduate Students’ Association.