A remarkable sixteen-year-old Fraser Lake student will be off to Taiwan this winter to take part in an annual international science fair to which 28 other countries will be invited.
Andrew Schulz goes to Fraser Lake Elementary Secondary and has been involved in science fairs since he was in grade four.
“My family, my sister is also involved. Last year my sister also went to nationals with me,” said Schulz. “It’s funny, we talk about how we do science and other kids do sports.”
“And they’re constantly talking about new ideas,” said Schulz’ mother Lilly. “We’ll be driving to Prince George or wherever, they’re like ‘that would be cool, oh what about that?’ So by the time we’ve got back from Prince George they’ve got it worked out how they would have to control variables, how they could control testing.”
His latest project was one of a series of projects he has been working on that involve diabetes. This one was to look at and test how various substances that remain on subjects fingers affect the fingerprick blood tests for diabetes.
“Basically what I was doing I was looking at how residues of substances on the fingers affected the blood glucose levels when diabetics test their blood and the readings that they get, how the substances affected that,” said Schulz.
Schulz found five willing participants who were willing to stick their fingers in things and then prick them on the blood test machines.
Schulz chose diabetes because it’s something that he has been around for many years but he himself does not suffer from it.
“I’ve always been around diabetes, and coming from a small northern community there’s a high population of shift workers and diabetes is very prevalent,” said Schulz. “Last year my project actually focused on shift work and how shift work affected diabetes. That was very interesting to see.”
The results showed that the substances did actually affect the test, and that when people are wiping off their fingers before they take the test, sometimes what they use to wipe won’t be very effective.
Four to seven is the recommended range for diabetics on a scale of glucose levels, Schulz was getting results like 28. Which showed the effect of the substances on the test.
“Now these results were pretty amazing to me,” said Schulz. “I found that the Kleenex Splash n Go wipes, something you pick up from Wal-Mart for 99 cents, and exfoliating wipes, something you take make-up off with, they did a better job of taking the substances off the fingers than the alcohol swabs.”
This is an especially important discovery because Schulz once observed a long term care facility for the elderly where nurses were unable to wash their hands regularly. So if they were unable to wash, they might be unable to get accurate results.
These projects typically take anywhere from 6 months to a year at the level that Andrew Schulz is working. The expectations rise for each year and he only has a few left before he has to leave high school and move on to bigger things.
But he said the experience he gets and the data he builds will come in handy in the future.
“Who knows? I might be in university and now I have so much data,” he said, admitting that he wants to perhaps become a doctor one day. “I’ve always had an interest in health and medicine.”
“When kids take that opportunity, it’s amazing where it will take them,” said Lilly Schulz. “Whoever thought, when he got that call from the Science Fair Foundation of B.C., that was amazing.
And Schulz is from Fraser Lake, so that’s where he said he wants to work once he becomes a doctor.
“I am very honoured to be chosen for these opportunities and to win awards, but ultimately the greatest reward for me is that my projects help people, particularly diabetics and make our world better. That really is what Science Fairs are about. It is amazing that young people everywhere are investigating the world and finding out new things or finding new and better ways of doing things. During the various science fairs, I look forward to sharing my findings with people. This year, in particular I wanted to get my message out to diabetics because it is important.
“It is because my school and our District 91 have committed to making Science Fairs possible that I am where I am today. From Districts I have moved on to Regionals which again is organized by a dedicated group of individuals who work hard to make this opportunity available to students in District 91,57 and Quesnel. Science Fairs have had a great impact on my life and I am thankful to all the people who have helped along the way.”