17-year-old Mark Norregaard who attends George McDougall High School, though he lives in Balzac, has always enjoyed all things science - and his passion has proven very fruitful as he has secured a top spot amongst the winners - as well as being the only Albertan to be on that top list at the 4-H Canada Science Fair.
Norregaard who was also a winner in last year's 4-H Science Fair, said his submission for this year's event was a continuation of what he has been working on for some time.
"Last year's project; I was testing different organic growth inhibitors that can be grown in Canada, just against each other on different metals. This year, I took the best corrosion inhibitor, the organic code inhibitor from that study - which turned out to be sweet potato skins and I tested it against another organic corrosion inhibitor tomato skin, as well as against a commercial corrosion inhibitor," Norregaard said explaining the nuances of his work.
"I tested it in the different corrosion inhibitors on two different metals; mild steel and galvanized steel, and in two different types of corrosive solutions, one being a vinegar solution, and the other one being a saltwater solution."
He has been participating in science fairs for half a decade now and said that with his farming background, this project was a natural fit and satisfied the curious and audacious scientist in him. He explained that for those who do farming, many of the commercial inhibitors that are available commercially for people in different industries, are usually inorganic, and he added usually detrimental to the environment.
"The few that are organic[s] that are available are usually relatively pricey. I kind of wanted to find an organic inhibitor that was cheap," Norregarard said. "In my case, they were all byproducts, so they would come relatively cheap and sustainable for the environment. Nowadays, everyone's looking at climate change and finding better ways to preserve the environment. I thought this might be one way that we can help out the environment."
Asked where his passion for science comes from, he said that he has always loved math and the sciences and since his mom herself was a scientist, it does run in the family. But it wasn't just his mom who inspired his love for the subject.
"Through the years, I've had really great science teachers and already have a passion for science, I think having someone teaching you about it, who really loves teaching other people about it helps a ton."
Norregaard explained that the 4-H Canada Science Fair was more than just having a nice poster or trifold with some data on it. There was quite a stringent process during the competition. According to 4-H, youths from grades 7 to 12 showcased their skills in STEM, while exploring their personal passions through experimentation, innovation, and invention.
"Following an initial judging round in January 2022, finalists were invited forward to the second round in March," 4-H's website stated.
Since he was named a winner in the 4-H Science Fair, the next Science Fair that will be held in May - Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF), is going to up the ante, according to Norregaard.
"I think it's something like the top 1 per cent of Canada [that] gets to go to that science fair. It is definitely the final step for Canada-wise anyways," he said.
In past years, due to COVID-19, the Science Fair was held virtually, but Norregaard said that with the return of in-person events like this, he is very excited to see his peers and their stellar projects face-to-face.
And although science is a very definite passion for the high school student, he said that he does also enjoy the simpler things in life - case in point - farming.
"I like just being out in nature and working with cattle. I've got a few old trucks that I like to 'putz' around with and fix. I always like to be doing something, but I like to change what I'm doing."
The Canada-Wide Science Fair will be hosted by Edmonton, Alberta from May 14-19. The general public is invited to visit the fair from May 17-19.
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