Prince Rupert Middle School student Cameron Sawka presented his climate change and carbon capture project at Charles Hayes Secondary School on March 8 as part of the district science fair. The Grade 7 student said he’s looking forward to taking his pea shoot-planting robot to the regional science fair next month. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

Prince Rupert middle-schooler programs robot to plant pea shoots

Cameron Sawka looking forward to presenting carbon capture project at regional science fair

Charles Hayes Secondary School hosted the district science fair on Friday, March 8, with more than 90 students from Grades 2 through 8 presenting their projects.

Prince Rupert Middle School vice principal Peter Scott told the Northern View that students from every school in SD52 participated, and received a certificate and trophy for their projects.

One project likely to advance to the regional science fair was created by middle school student Cameron Sawka, Scott said.

For his project, the Grade 7 PRMS student studied climate change and carbon capture, and coded a reforestation robot.

READ MORE: Charles Hays student wins third place at international science fair

Sawka said that because carbon dioxide, the leading factor in climate change, is heavier than oxygen, “it goes into the oceans and when it dissolves into water it turns into acid.”

To study the impact of this, Sawka put mollusk shells in containers with water and acetic aid for different periods of time, from a few hours to a few weeks.

“The [shells] that are in the acid barely have any colour, and look thinner and more fragile,” Sawka said. “Then I have mollusk shells in water and they’re completely fine.”

Sawka didn’t stop there. Next he asked, “how can I combat climate change and what methods can I use?”

He researched carbon capture innovation and projects, and landed on aforestation and reforestation, “one of the least costly and most efficient ways” of capturing carbon.

“Forty trees can collect one tonne of carbon dioxide a year,” he said. “That’s a lot of carbon dioxide.”

READ MORE: Charles Hays student wins Pacific Northwest Regional Science Fair

To plant trees faster, Sawka experimented with a robot and a simple coding kit he got for Christmas. After about two weeks of tinkering, he was able to program the robot to plant pea seeds.

Last year Sawka said he won first place at the science fair, but wasn’t old enough to advance to regionals.

This year, he’s looking forward to the opportunity.

“I think going to regionals would be awesome,” he said.

The regional science fair will also take place at Charles Hayes, starting after school on Friday, April 5 and ending on Saturday, April 6.

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