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Thursday, 16 June 2011 08:52

Irwin students win national Science Fair bronze medals

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By John R. Statton — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Two O.M. Irwin students won national bronze medals for their scientific endeavour.

Seventh graders Lauren Levorson-Wong and Kaitlin Olmsted took home the honours for Magnets: Farm Tool of the Future. They had won gold medals at the regional level for their project about the effects of magnetism on seed germination.

“My grandmother was a farmer’s wife and magnetizing seeds was her way of increasing crop yield,” said Levorson-Wong.

The experiment consisted of 50 seeds of each of the following varieties: soft white wheat, golden wheat, brown flax, golden flax, mung beans, niger and barley seeds.

The seeds were placed on paper towel covering plastic plates, and grouped as magnetized and non-magnetized. A magnet was ran over the former while the latter was watered.

The girls noticed shoots form on the magnetized batch after only three days.

“Toronto was a great experience for us and we had a lot of fun,” said Olmsted. “I couldn’t believe it, I was smiling from ear-to-ear.”

“It was surreal to hear our name being called,” said Levorson-Wong.

The pair beat the odds to win at the national  level, as the top two per cent of the 25,000 young Canadians who compete annually in regional science fairs actually make it to the Canada-Wide Science Fair.

“I’m very proud of both of them and they worked really hard, and I think the accomplishment was amazing,” said Barb Levorson, mother of Levorson-Wong.

“There were over 500 kids at the national level, and to get a bronze medal was just astounding. We’re really proud of all the work that they’ve done.”

More than $1 million in scholarships were handed out at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Together Levorson-Wong and Olmsted received a $300 scholarship, and $1,000 each to go to the University of Western Ontario.

Levorson-Wong’s grandmother was impressed with the girl’s success.

“Oh Lord, I’m so proud, they got bronze at the Canadian nationals and that’s unheard of,” said Ingrid Levorson.

Levorson had learned the technique through her own experiences.

“I’ve always sort of been interested in magnets, but my father was born in 1887, and he had a curiosity about magnets, so we used to play with iron filing and magnets when we were young,” she said.

“He always said that the only way to get a good sleep was to lay your head to the magnetic north, so for his whole life he slept with his head pointed in that direction, and he lived to be 99 years old.”

Later while working at a tree nursery, she was told by a supervisor about magnets breaking the dormancy of grain.

Now Levorson is a retired nurse, and understands the practical applications of magnets within the fields of medicine and science.

“As a nurse, I heard of magnets being used in health healing and I just thought it was a myth, but as we know today, magnets are being used experimentally in aiding brain disorders and also magnetic resonance imaging, and now unraveling the black matter in space,” she said.

“So, I used a magnet to break the dormancy in registered grain, and low-and-behold all of the magnetized seeds germinated faster, they grew faster, and the percentage of germination was also enhanced.”

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