Saturday, 7 December 2013

Medicine Accelerated: Canada's role in the Medical Isotope Revolution

About a week ago, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture run by Science World in partnership with TRIUMF, called Medicine Accelerated: Canada's role in the Medical Isotope Revolution. The topic was how physics can be applied in the medical world, with a focus on an alternative way to treat cancer patients. The lecture was quite engaging and it gave me insight on how scientists are coming up with new discoveries each and every day. This lecture sparked some questions for me too- if this new physics approach of curing cancer is effective, how many people can it cure? Would this be a path to eradicating the disease itself? This talk allowed me to realize that new scientific discoveries are being made each and every day, and it also made me realize how textbook science can be applied in our daily life. I enjoyed the discussion and overall it was quite worthwhile.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Enviro-Biz Case Competiton

On the weekend, I attended my first ever business case competition, another opportunity presented to me by Science Academy. I wanted to expand my horizons and see how well I enjoyed business. Since I am quite passionate about the environment and sustaining it, I was excited to see what our case topic would be. We were grouped in teams of two university students and two high school students, which allowed us to interact with a variety of like-minded individuals. I had never participated in a case competition before, so I had yet to experience reading and preparing a case presentation for our judges, and to present it, all within the same day. It was very nerve-wracking, yet I enjoyed it as well. The case we were presented with was to do with BC's controversial debate about LNG and fracking. Along with gaining presentation/organizational skills, I also learned quite a bit about the actual subject matter while I was researching. Overall, I left the business competition with a new understanding of what studying business would be like, and I also developed a lot of useful skills.

Monday, 25 November 2013

CRFI Mini-Med School XIV- Diabetes: Mythology and Modern Research

Over the past 6 weeks, I had the opportunity to attend a "Mini-Med School" program, which was basically a set of lectures all under the topic of Diabetes. It was quite the experience, and I gained a lot of insight on what university lectures would be like. The speakers discussed areas such as the role of the pancreas, insulin,  inflammation, and beta cell suicide in diabetes, as well as leading-edge concepts related to diabetes. These lectures allowed us to think beyond our normal scope of understanding, and see how the science we learned was being applied in the real world. Along with this, on the final day, we were given lab tours by PhD students at the research center, and we were given lovely "Mini-Med Brain" stress balls. All in all, I enjoyed attending this program and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in studying medicine in the future.

"Mini-Med Brain"

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Gravity: A Must-See

Last week we went on our first field trip, to watch the 3D Sci-Fi film "Gravity" directed by Alfonso CuarĂ³n. It was quite a thrilling experience, with gripping effects and stunning visuals. However, once observing the film with a critical eye, I soon came across a few flaws regarding the plot and physics of the story. Now, keep in mind, this movie was not designed for a group of Physics PhDs, and the errors do not take away from the absolute brilliance of the film at all.

To start, there are a number of general plot deficiencies, from the location of the space stations and satellites to Dr. Stone's (Sandra Bullock) attire, as well as the immense exaggeration of the spacesuits' mobility and Dr.Stone's versatility with space stations. Considering the physics, there are some problematic scenes as well.


At one of the most important parts of the movie, Kowalski (George Clooney) sacrifices himself for the sake of Dr. Stone's survival. As a matter of fact, this was not necessary, and he could have easily been saved! Since space has zero gravity, there was no force pulling him away from the Space Station, and Dr. Stone would have been able to tug on the tethers without difficulty, to bring them both to safety.

Along with that, the scene in which Dr. Stone propels herself to the Soyuz using a fire extinguisher is theoretically possible, yet quite unrealistic. Fire extinguishers only have so much pressure, and if this actually happened in real life, it would definitely not be as easy as depicted.

On the other hand, these mishaps merely add to the cinematic effect, and they keep the story line going. We have to consider that this is simply a piece of fiction, not a documentary. Furthermore, they did get many things right, such as the beautiful view of the earth, as well as the structure of the ISS itself. Overall, this film was quite breathtaking and it deserves its stand as one of the most successful space films of all-time.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Reflections on Term I

Wow! Time flies; it has been about two months since the start of Science Academy, and it seems like just yesterday I was filling out my application. It has definitely not been easy, yet I can feel myself getting into the rhythm of things slowly.  

Over the course of my school career, I have noticed that first term is always the hardest, and my marks reflect that. It can sometimes be challenging to get back into a schedule, and not have as much free time as one would during the summer months. September is the start of everything- school, piano lessons, after school sports, and the like. All of this work piled on at once can be quite overwhelming until you get back into the routine. Balancing my work with extracurriculars has for sure been my biggest struggle so far. However, I feel that being in Science Academy has helped me better develop time management skills already. Adjusting to a substantially larger workload is mandatory in preparation for post-secondary; you either face the hardships now or later (now is better).

 In addition, technology is now becoming an everyday tool in our lives, and there is no way to avoid it. It is often a source of distraction, but it doesn't have to be. To elaborate, one must learn when is the appropriate time to incorporate technology, and when it shouldn't be used. Technology can be a huge barrier in time management, because it is quite easy to get sidetracked. You go online to search up the meaning of a word, and find yourself on the 'Best Vines' Facebook page three hours later. Science Academy has guided me in the sense of learning how to use technology to our advantage, and how to incorporate it into our learning. In return, this is has helped me become wiser with my time.

Overall the most important thing I have learned this term is time management, and Michael Altshuler sums it up quite nicely, "The bad news is time flies. The good new is you're the pilot."

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Integrated Math and Science Academy? What's That?

When I first heard about the Integrated Math and Science Academy (Science Academy/SA for short), I was quite thrilled. See, science has always been a great passion of mine, and my school had just given me the opportunity to pursue it.

So, what is Science Academy? Basically, it's a two-year program in which students will be able to take "textbook science" and apply it into real world situations. In addition, in our senior year we will be able to enroll in University chemistry courses while still in high school- pretty cool, huh? Visit the Science Academy website for a full description of the program. 

Many may be wondering, why dedicate half of your school day and earn marks that may not be as high as in regular science/math classes? Well, as a self-proclaimed nerd, what I'm going to say may be a bit controversial, but, marks aren't everything. Now, don't get me wrong, academic excellence is quite important for university entrance and whatnot, but what really matters is how much you have actually learned. If you focus on learning instead of trying to gain marks, your marks will do all the gaining itself. Marks can help you get into university, but what can help you succeed in it? This is where Science Academy comes in; SA helps us change our approach on learning in order to make us more effective learners. Furthermore, since it is an accelerated program, we are given the opportunity to learn material that is above our grade level, in preparation to excel in our post-secondary education. In the end, all of these aspects are what helped me realize that this was the right path for me.

I hope you now have a better insight on what the Science Academy is, and I welcome you all to join me as I blog about my journey through Science Academy.