Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques took time from his busy schedule on the International Space Station Wednesday to encourage young students to pursue science — telling them they are the future.
Hundreds of students from across Canada are gathered in Fredericton this week for the 2019 Canada-Wide Science Fair at the University of New Brunswick.
Saint-Jacques spoke to the students via a live video link from the space station orbiting 400 kilometres above earth.
“Remember, our future is in the hands of young people like you, everybody in the audience, people who want to make a difference. You can make a difference. You are the future,” he said.
Saint-Jacques announced the winners of the Little Inventors — Inventions for space contest.
More than 3,000 students entered the contest, but Connor Brown from Acton, Ont., and Amy Claerhout of Beaumont, Alta., both Grade 7 students, were selected the winners.
Brown designed different imprints for the bottom of space boots to identify the footprints of different astronauts on the moon or other planets.
“Most boots have the same zigzag pattern on the bottom of the sole. But with my idea, astronauts can see their designed boot imprint marks on the moon. With my invention we can also tell which imprint belongs to who,” Brown told the audience.
Saint-Jacques said he thought it was a very creative idea.
“And you know Canada has joined a group of nations to go back to the moon and we’ll need boots for that. So maybe your invention will have a future. Keep thinking and keep inventing,” he said.
Amy Claerhout designed a mini Canadarm for the washroom on the space station to keep personal hygiene items such as brushes, tweezers and tooth brushes from floating away.
Saint-Jacques said it was an item that would be very useful because the astronauts on the space station have things float away all the time.
Claerhout said she was amazed that Saint-Jacques spoke directly to her and knew who she was.
Both students said they would like to see their inventions put to use, and will follow their interest in science.
About a dozen students from across the country got the opportunity to ask Saint-Jacques questions ranging from “What happens to fizzy liquids like soda pop in space?” to questions about growing food in space, and how to encourage the next generation of thinkers in Canada.
Reni Barlow, executive director of Youth Science Canada said a lot has changed at student science fairs over the years and the ideas from students are more complex than volcanoes made with vinegar and baking soda.
“Primarily it’s because they want to help people. They are passionate about a particular question. They want to make the world a better place. They are not afraid to tackle challenging problems and bigger questions and to go out and find the answers and the resources to come up with some pretty amazing projects,” he said.
Barlow said many of the students are interested in topics like politics and climate change.
“Students are very tuned in to the global problems and local problems and they want to make a difference,” he said.
At the start of the brief event with the students, the International Space Station was over the northern Pacific Ocean and was south of Africa by the time it was complete.
Saint-Jacques arrived on the space station last December for a six-and-a-half month mission, which has included a space walk.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
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