Les Gagnants du SBC vous parlent de leur expérience: Nivatha Balendra

Nivatha Balendra, gagnante de la première place au niveau régional et récipiendaire d’un prix de mérite au niveau national, 2011-2012.

Que faites-vous actuellement? / What are you doing now?

I am currently a 2nd year Health Sciences student at Marianopolis College. Apart from researching, I am also a founding member and President of our College’s MEDLIFE chapter. As a chapter, we will be going on a mobile clinic trip to Lima, Peru this summer! In addition, I am an executive member of both the Biology Club and Science Fair club at Marianopolis. We organize fun and enriching activities for the students, such as lectures and dissections. I am also currently teaching South Indian Classical Dance as an assistant teacher.

Qu’est-ce qui a motivé votre participation au DBSC? / What motivated you to participate in the SBCC?

If I could sum up my reason in one word it would be: passion. Ever since grade nine I have been participating in science fairs since I discovered that one of my passions was research. I knew that gaining more hands-on experience in the field would undoubtedly be beneficial, and that is precisely what science fairs, such as the SBCC provide students with! I soon realized that I not only gained personal experience through presenting my project to professionals, but also learnt so much through the invaluable advice I received from all judges. Another important factor was of course learning about various fields of research through the projects of the greatly talented participants.

Comment avez-vous vécu le processus de compétition? / Describe what the competition process was like for you.

The first step of the competition process was of course finding an idea that intrigued me. I researched on the topic in order to develop an idea and tried to shape it in a way that would be useful in our day and age. At the time when I conceived my idea (in 2012), it was after the H1N1 outbreak and when hand sanitizers were being bought by consumers so rapidly. I wanted to know whether the products we were all depending on to get rid of surface bacteria were in fact as effective as they seemed. After this, I had to search for a mentor, and this was no easy task; I’m certain most of you have experienced this as well! I emailed over 50 professors and received only two mentors over the two years I did my project. My mentors guided me and taught me how to execute an effective procedure for this experiment along with my own input.

I am currently researching in the environmental sciences field and I can say that I often have to change my procedures in order to obtain the results I am searching for. In addition, the results can be quite surprising when you least expect it! I know that I would spend days thinking about whether my results would turn out well, and I learnt that sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t, which is totally natural!

The SBCC really provided me with a great opportunity to present my research and gain experience. It was professional, friendly, and enriching, all at once. The judges were all super nice and helpful! Remember that it’s a special opportunity to be able to present your project in front of other successful scientists. Getting criticism is also a key part of the competition, to learn ways to improve both your presentation skills as well as your experimentation. Of course, the friends you make are equally fulfilling to your experience! I personally learnt so much about their projects and ambitions. Everyone at the SBCC (from the amazing coordinator, to the Projet SEUR team, and of course, the great judges) is there to help you throughout the whole competition process!

Comment votre participation au DBSC vous a-t-elle aidé au-delà du secondaire? / How has your participation helped you beyond high school?

As mentioned previously, the experience I gained through researching and participating in the SBCC is definitely the invaluable. For starters, my interest in the field motivated me to execute research projects at a fairly young age, when I was in grade nine. The fact that I was able to learn so much through my amazing mentors, year after year, really enriched my knowledge of various topics. It undoubtedly helped in College since the Biology courses encompassed material including that which I already learnt in the lab and through researching for the projects. This is definitely the case for not only me, but every science fair participant! Getting started at the high school level in science fair surely helps, since the hands-on experience that you gain really strengthens your knowledge of the material you may cover in your future field of study.

Décrivez l’aspect de votre participation au DBSC que vous avez préféré. / Describe your favourite aspect of participating in the SBCC.

My favourite part of the competition would undoubtedly be meeting so many talented, passionate, and of course, intelligent young scientists! I learnt a tremendous amount through the presentations of my peers and the experience is really once in a lifetime. It truly is equally great to be among students who share the same passion as you, as it foster this sense of connection and appreciation. Another part of the competition that I liked was being judged by a panel of renowned professionals. The fact that I was able to present my personal research in front of these successful individuals is a gift in itself and really is a rare opportunity!

Quels conseils donneriez-vous aux participants de cette année? / What advice do you have for this year’s participants?

In terms of advice, I would say to have confidence in yourself and your research, don’t be afraid to show your passion in the field, and of course have fun! You have all dedicated hours and hours to each of your projects, so remember that you know the most about your experimental process. Read over your presentation a couple of times and practice what you wish to say beforehand. Don’t memorize a presentation though since it might make you nervous and stressed to look for words! Remember that this whole competition is a learning process, so don’t ever feel afraid to make mistakes! If you’re asked a question which you don’t know the answer to, it’s totally fine to admit that you’re uncertain. Needless to say however, do research your topic in detail so that you can think on the spot when a judge asks you a question regarding your project! I sincerely wish you all good luck at the competition and don’t forget, relax and have fun!

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