CFN – Cornwall high school students Jeremy Mallette and Samantha Peets won a gold medal yesterday at the Canada Wide Science Fair in Fredericton, New Brunswick for their project UPOD: The Sixth Sensor.
The grade twelve students from St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School also won the Science Fair’s one-thousand dollar Canadian Acoustical Association Award.
Mallette and Peets were awarded the all-expenses paid, week-long trip to the Canada Wide Science Fair at the United-Counties Science Fair, which took place in Cornwall this April.
The pair developed their Ultrasonic Personal Object Detector, or UPOD, as a wearable navigation device for the visually impaired. The UPOD uses tones that sound at an increasing speed to indicate that the wearer is getting closer to a nearby object. It can also sense different elevations. “We just came up with the idea in a moment of spontaneous inspiration,” said Mallette. “After that, we organized all the possibilities, weighed the pros and cons, and then started working on it.”
The two were able to run some real-life tests of their device at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s Ottawa office. “The staff at the CNIB were very supportive,” said Peets. “It was really exciting to see that our device can be useful. And with the feedback we’ve received from them, we realize we could do so much more with it.”
As one of ten Gold Medal winners in the Senior Division at the Canada Wide Science Fair, Mallette and Peets are also eligible for $27,000 in scholarships from universities across Canada. They include $5000 from Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Science; $4000 from University of British Columbia; $5000 from University of Manitoba; $5000 from University of New Brunswick; $4000 from University of Ottawa; and $4000 from University of Western Ontario.
“United Counties Science Fair hopes this will inspire other youth in our region and show that experiences like this at the regional and national level are available,” said Jason Marshall, Chair of the United Counties Science Fair.
Gabriel Valin, a student from L’Héritage in Cornwall and Michelle Journeaux, from Glengarry District High School, also represented the region at the national event. Journeaux’s project looked at high frequency hearing loss and Valin’s project investigated ways to fix problems caused by the highly invasive grass called Phragmites communis. “They are all incredible kids,” said Mike O’Neil, a local Science Fair organizer who accompanied the group.
The United Counties Science Fair is held in Cornwall every April, and this year celebrated its 40th anniversary. The fair is a non-profit organization that aims to encourage students to explore the many fields of science, and to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills.
Pictured from left to right, Michelle Journeaux, Samantha Peets, Gabriel Valin and Jeremy Mallette.