High-school scientists hit the big leagues

The Beam Team, hard at work in the lab. Submitted photo.

A group of student scientists from Carlton Comprehensive High School presented their research on Monday, dazzling parents with an account of their work with Canada’s most powerful light source.

The students, who call themselves the “Beam Team,” just wrapped up a yearlong experiment into the effects of potassium on canola. With help from established researchers, the students worked together to design their own experiment, answering a completely new question of real interest to science.

Specifically, they wanted to know whether increasing potassium levels would affect the plant’s resistance to the fungal disease known as black leg. And to answer that question, they got to use Canada’s only synchrotron, a machine at the University of Saskatchewan that produces powerful beams of X-Rays and infrared radiation.

It was a way to catch a glimmer of how science works in the real world.

“For me this was a giant opportunity to do new research that we chose, that we created and that we didn’t know the answers to yet,” said Melissa Bone, one of the eight students who presented at Carlton’s Learning Commons. “It was really a breathtaking experience.”

For more on this story, pick up the March 8 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.