Schulz ’s snails head to national science fair

This will be her third time going to the Canada-wide science fair.

Elizabeth Schulz

Elizabeth Schulz

Fraser Lake — If the third time’s a charm, Elizabeth Schulz, 17, will win this year’s Canada Wide Science Fair.

The young science enthusiast from Fraser Lake has competed for seven years in a row at the regional Central Interior Science (CIS) Fair (since the allowable start of Gr 4). This will be her third time going to nationals and she said it’s her competitive spirit that keeps her going.

“As I see different things around the world I just start wondering what if, why does it have to be like that and what can I do about it,” Schulz said.

She previously won a silver medal in Gr 8 for her project on Reducing Populations of Lymnae Staynalis (pond snails) and a bronze in Gr 9 for her project Reducing Populations of Lymnae Staynalis Part 2.

Those projects looked into the cycle of the parasite causing swimmers itch.

“I found how it transfers and gets into human skin and snails are part of that process [acting as carriers]. So in Gr 8 and 9 I looked at reducing those snails populations to reduce swimmers itch in lakes,” Shultz said.

This year her project investigates correlations and variations of snails.

“Snails are used for neurological research because of their simple nervous systems. When scientists chose snails for experiments they look at their length when deciding which snail to use. When I do my experiments I find when snails are 2 cm long, there are other characteristics that scientists should also be considering. Some are more leaner, narrow, fatter, skinnier, so I was trying to see whether the physical traits of length and mass could be correlated to the natural behaviours of mobility, respiration and feeding,” Schulz said.

Schulz is one of nearly 100 people on Team BC that will represent the province at the Canada-wide competition in Fredericton. Upwards of 500 students attend the fair each year that gives out more than $1 million in prizes and scholarships.

Pat Offin, a retired school teacher who sits on the organizing committee for the CIS fair, will be one of Elizabeths chaperones again this year to nationals. She said Elizabeth is definately a self starter and very self motivated.

“In Vanderhoof and Fraser Lake they don’t have to go past Gr 7 and to what I understand there is little-to-no support for continuing science fair projects. It’s not a class project so [Elizabeth] did it on her own, basically taking time out of other things to be involved. She’s very dedicated to her science and always looking at ways to improve her projects,” Offin said.

Lilly Schulz, Elizabeth’s mother, said she is so proud of all her kids. Andrew Schulz, 17, Elizabeth’s older brother, went to the international science fair in Jan 2014.

“I’ve seen them both develop so many skills through this process. I’m proud they are persistant with their projects and use their own time and do it because it’s cool,” Ms. Schulz said.

Winners of the Canada Wide Science Fair will be announced May 17. For more information visit cwsf.youthscience.ca.