Move to online platform expands reach for the Science Fair Foundation’s Youth Innovation Showcase

Winners from three age categories will be awarded $5,000 at the virtual finals this summer

Credit: Youth Innovation Showcase

Mac Dykeman, a 2019 finalist, presents a solution to reduce stress in chick shipments

Winners from three age categories will take home $5,000 at the virtual finals this spring

The organizers of the Science Fair Foundation of British Columbia‘s Youth Innovation Showcase are setting a good example for their participants—due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they’ve shifted the applications, workshops, and final event online. “It’s sort of been a blessing in disguise,” says Madeleine Guenette, executive director of the Science Fair Foundation. “Now we are able to engage industry from all over, and feature things that are happening in every region of B.C. and the Yukon.”

Last year’s showcase was largely Vancouver-focused, but Guenette predicts that the online nature of the 2020 showcase will draw applicants from more-remote regions. Youth between 12 and 24 years of age are invited to submit a 30-second pitch video highlighting their innovation by this Thursday (April 30). 

The pitch guidelines are deliberately open-ended—”innovation comes in all shapes and sizes,” Guenette explains—and applicants will be split into three age categories: 12-15, 16-19 and 20-24.

The virtual platform has also let the Science Fair Foundation conduct various workshops and panels throughout the application process. “We’re trying to engage industry with the youth as much as youth with industry,” Guenette notes.

Upcoming workshops include Gamifying Your Goals with Brodie Whitney, founder and CEO of Facing Dragons (April 30); Building Your World with Tomoko Okochi, CEO of Codeca Educational Technology and Services (May 21); and Silver Linings: Build Yourself Into the Social Fabric of a New Post-Corona Economy with Jake Hirsch-Allen, founder of Lighthouse Labs (May 26). “We are supporting educators and parents by putting out content that can give the youth a really positive educational experience,” Guenette says.

After the submission deadline, volunteer industry judges from B.C. and Yukon will rank the students, and selected applicants will be interviewed and given constructive feedback. Later, the top five in each age category will be invited to the virtual finals on June 10. “The finals will be sort of like Dragons’ Den online,” Guenette says. “They’ll do a two-minute pitch, then the judges will ask them questions.” The winners from each age category will take home $5,000.

Last year’s finalists included 15-year-old Mac Dykeman, who came up with a solution to reduce stress in chick shipments; Aaliyah Mahboubi, 15, who had an idea to harness power from decomposition in bogs; and 17-year-old Natasha Burgert, whose project involved highly efficient solar modules in sustainable transport.

Guenette is confident that this year’s applicants will be just as impressive, especially during this difficult time, when innovation is key for all of us. “We’re showing the youth the power of their own ideas,” she says. “Now is the time to really work on something that you’re passionate about.” 

You can learn more about the Youth Innovation Showcase at