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GCVI student wins big at national science fair

Grade 11 GCVI student Roocha Shukla took home multiple awards at the 2024 Canada Wide Science Fair in Ottawa for her research in plant growth and development

Life can be stressful, and not only for humans.

GCVI student, Roocha Shukla, has found a way to protect plants from all of the everyday annoyances.

Last month, the Grade 11 student took home multiple awards at the 2024 Canada Wide Science Fair for her research in plant growth and development.

Shukla was awarded the Senior Gold Medal – Challenge Award for Best in Division for Agriculture, as well as the prestigious Youth Can Innovate Award.

Her science project determined that sea buckthorn berry extract, which she has named GreenArmour, can help the growth and development of plants, as well as protect them from stressful factors.

“I came up with this idea because I had been noticing all of these issues in plants. I researched and came across medicinal plants and sea buckthorn berries. Their use in human health is well established, but no one has ever used the berry extract on plants. So, that’s what I decided to do,” Shukla said.

“And I was able to prove that sea buckthorn berry extract is a natural plant biostimulant.”

Shukla, 17, began her project in October 2023 which included research, gathering resources, conducting experiments in a lab, after school and on weekends.

“It was very excited to conduct all of the experiments,” she said.

“Working with all of the plants and also working in the lab with all of the bacteria was very interesting."

Research concluded in March this year.  

“I first went to the regional science fair. There were nine of us along with a support team to help us with the whole process of getting us to the nationals. So, I am definitely very grateful for them,” Shukla said.

“I also worked in prof. Praveen Saxena’s lab at the University of Guelph. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked there, in the Deptartment of Plant Agriculture.”

The Canada Wide Science Fair was held in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre from May 24 – June 1.  

Previously winning the Founders’ Award of Excellence at the Waterloo-Wellington Science & Engineering Fair last year. Roocha has competed and placed in science fairs since Grade 7.

“This was my third time at the national fair. My first time was two years ago, but it was online. And then last year, I went to Edmonton. My project was still plant related, but it was a different idea.”

The Canada Wide Science Fair (CWSF) is the country's largest youth STEM event. Hosted annually by Youth Science Canada, it brings together young minds who celebrate their passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

From groundbreaking research to inventive solutions, each project at the CWSF celebrates the potential of young scientists with presentations, demonstrations, and discussions.

“The whole week was really fun. Every day we had different events and activities and I got to meet people from all over Canada, from coast to coast. It was really cool to see all of their projects,” Shukla said.

“The experience itself was something I will remember for many years.”

Shukla's love of plants began at a young age.

"My house has always been full of plants, and I always liked plants growing up. I love all the sciences, specifically, biology," she said.

"In the future I hope to go into biology. I’m really interested in plants, but I also find human biology is very interesting."

To learn more about Roocha’s GreenArmour project visit here.

Shukla says her experience at the fair has inspired her to continue on an educational path in science. 

“I think its really important that everyone has the chance to show their ideas,” she said.

“At the fair, you can see that there are so many people who have these great ideas and who can really help the world be a better place.”


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Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community
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