December 17th, 2017

Grade 11s getting research experience at university

By Schnarr, J.W. on July 14, 2017.

J.W. Schnarr

Lethbridge Herald

Some Grade 11 students from southern Alberta are taking part in a program designed to open their eyes to cutting-edge health and bio-medical research happening in Lethbridge.

Seven Grade 11 students, including five from Lethbridge, are at the University of Lethbridge this week for the Heritage Youth Researcher Summer program, a six-week, hands-on, multidisciplinary research program offered to top students with a proven academic record and an interest in innovation in healthcare.

The students will be conducting research and experience different approaches to health solutions from multiple disciplines.

Brett Weighill, HYRS program coordinator, said the program, which is run through Alberta universities, provides a glimpse into university life for Grade 11 students.

“They can start making decisions for university in Grade 12,” he said. “Most students don’t think about getting in to university until the end of Grade 12.

“This way, we’re giving them a head start, and giving them some networks and context in university.

“This allows them to properly take their high school science courses, make sure they have all their maths, biology and chemistry, to make sure they get into prestigious research opportunities across the province.”

Some of their opportunities will include gaining professional exposure and references for their future education and careers; potentially publishing and presenting cutting edge research not yet in textbooks; and be involved in a number of projects, including the effects of carcinogens on DNA, analysis of rural health coverage, and bioengineering.

The students will hear from guest speakers and participate in field trips, technology workshops, and social events.

They will also have an opportunity to learn about multiple research facilities and meet students with similar interests. The students are mentored by researchers working on campus, and are given the chance to experience what a research career might be like.

“We want students to gain an understanding of the wide variety of careers available in research, science biomedical, innovation, business and engineering,” said Weighill.

“A lot of students come out of high school thinking they will be a doctor, a vet, or a teacher. What this program does is show not only the variety of careers that are available but just how many are right here in Lethbridge, and the high calibre of science research going on daily around them, that maybe they weren’t aware of.”

Students who complete the program are given a $2,500 award, and one of their responsibilities will then be to return to high school the following year and present their research to Grade 11 science students and share experiences from the program.

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