Canadas Homeschool Alberta 5.1 Fall : Page 5

ON THE COVER Science Fair Fun GOLD IN COMPUTER GRAPHICS AND 3D IMAGES Christopher, now fourteen, has always had a fascination with computers. I can remember when he was three years old playing on his dad’s computer, rearranging files and mixing everything up. We quickly found games and educational programs that we thought could help in his learning and as time went on he began to explore the ins and outs of the computer, teaching himself how things worked and why. Searching on the internet this January I found that there were indeed some great opportunities. Science fair season was well under way and Christopher decided that he was game! He signed up for both the Calgary Youth Science Fair (CYSF) and the Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (CWVSF). CYSF is a competition open to students in Calgary in grades 5-12. The Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair is an annual science, technology and web building contest open to students in grades K-12. Normally students register for Science Fairs through their school, but being homeschooled Christopher signed up as an independent. The next few months were devoted to his project. He decided to use his background computer knowledge to put together a project where he developed a system that took images of an object rotating to generate a 3D model on the computer. At CYSF Christopher was awarded a gold medal and chosen to be on Team Alberta, participating in the Canada Wide Science Fair (CWSF) in Ottawa. In addition to playing games on the computer he thought he should start learning to make his own. This led to understanding how games were programmed and how the graphics were put together. At twelve and a half years old he discovered an online group devoted to mentoring and teaching courses for those interested in computer graphics and modeling 3D images. He was their youngest contributing member. For birthday gifts he wanted us to help cover costs of computer related courses. He started to understand how math could be applied in computer programming and therefore found purpose in studying algebra and geometry. EBay and goodwill provided him with great sources of cheap textbooks. I could not keep up with him, discovering that by now he was sky rocketing out of my realm of knowledge. I felt that perhaps the science fair world might open up some interesting possibilities for him. When he was in grade six I suggested to Christopher that he participate in a Science Fair but he was totally uninterested. Three years later his curiosity was sparked and his passion for computers was directed into a research project. At CWVSF he won a first prize in the Grade 7-9 Engineering/Computer Science category. In addition at the CYSF in Ottawa, he went on to win prizes including the gold medal for computer science in the grade 9-10 category. Christopher’s science fair experience has not only been educational and fun, it has opened up a whole world for him academically. He plans on participating again next year and perhaps even represent Canada at the international level one day. In his words he’s “hooked” on science fairs! Ileana Nielsen Calgary, Alberta FALL 2008 5

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