Spotlight on Discovery
STUDENTS FROM SASKATCHEWAN’S NORTH DO SYNCHROTRON SCIENCE
Shaeden Klein prepares samples under the watchful eye of CLS scientist Rob Blyth.
Last May, six Dene-speaking students from La Loche Community School travelled to the CLS to collaborate with our scientists in a chance to meld traditional knowledge with western science techniques to look at the effects of acid rain on soil and plants in the Boreal forest around their community. The program, Students on the Beamlines, sponsored by NSERC PromoScience, gives high school students from across Canada the chance to experience scientific research using a CLS beamline, or in Dene, bak’ëni Ëℓtth’i hëˊʔahi.
Working with CLS scientists Rob Blyth and Lachlan Maclean, the team discovered that the topmost layers of soil were stripped of aluminum-containing minerals, a hallmark of acid rain exposure. Indications of sulphur leaching in tree cores and in lichen provided further evidence that acid rain is having an impact on the forests surrounding La Loche. Commenting on how their findings parallel observations by local elders, La Loche student Jontae Desroches told an Aboriginal news publication that “Elders have noticed that the landscape, where trees used to grow...well, there’s none growing there anymore.”
Canadian Light Source staff with La Loche students
Accepting their “SotB” prize (l. to r.) Nicholas Herman, Jennessa Herman, Shaeden Klein and Jontae DesRoches
Following their experiment, the students produced a poster that garnered them the first-place prize of Canadian high school synchrotron users. In September, Assistant Director of Research Rob Blyth and Tracy Walker, Educational Outreach Coordinator, ventured to the northern Saskatchewan community to present the young researchers with their prize. Along the way, the group had a chance to discuss future experiments and for Rob to “talk science” with students (above). With the success of their Saskatoon summer visit, the group is planning for a return trip, albeit with a slightly different look, as two members of the student research team have graduated and moved on to post-secondary studies. But the remaining members are keen on filling those spots with students who are just as interested about environmental research impacting their community.'
Further information about this project can be found on our website: www.lightsource.ca.
Last modified: 2013-05-03 16:05:42