MARK HIS ONE SOLVED: THE MYSTERY OF THE RADIOACTIVE CLOUD OVER EUROPE
A cloud of nuclear radiation quietly descended upon continental Europe in 2017. It represented the biggest release of radiation since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, yet there was no obvious cause. Perhaps because of that, the cloud slipped under the general public’s radar. Scientists wanted to know more, however. In fact this was a mystery that 70 experts from across Europe set out to answer. The team analyzed 1,300 measurements from across the continent and beyond to determine that the ruthenium-106 isotopes had originated from a nuclear
accident in southern Russia. That’s the word from the Vienna University of Technology, which released information on the researchers’ behalf. Sometime on September 26 or 27, 2017, the Mayak Production Association in the Ural Mountains experienced a nuclear fuel-reprocessing accident. The resulting cloud was not harmful outside of Russia, but researchers suspect there was serious fallout close to the site. That’s a suspicion that may never be proven. The Russian government, after all, denies that the incident even happened.
NOT YOUR ORDINARY SCIENCE EVENT
RESCUE WORK Students in the Grade 4-6 division construct a waterproof craft with a little help from an APEGA volunteer, at the APEGA Science Olympics in Calgary, last May.
At each APEGA Science Olympics, the exuberance of kids intersects with curriculum-based challenges inspired by real events. And by the way, everyone has a great time—spectators included
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Mohamed El Daly, P.Eng., Director, Outreach & Product Services. “There’s often more than one functional solution to a single problem, so every team is judged per project—not by how they rate against other teams.” Each challenge is designed to be a positive, fun- filled learning experience for all students, directly related to and expanding upon the science and math curriculum taught in their grade at school. Students apply out-of- the-box thinking to real-world problems in a way that also develops soft skills, including: • teamwork
The gymnasium is loud and crowded. Children work in small groups, hyper-focused on the tasks at hand. Judges with clipboards navigate narrow aisles, offering words of encouragement. The excitement is palpable as ideas are proposed and tested. Laughter rings out, drawing smiles from parents, teachers, volunteers, and others in attendance. Yes, geoscience and engineering really are this much fun, and the APEGA Science Olympics brings out the joy in people of all ages. Happening across Alberta in 2020, science olympics are marquee events for the APEGA Outreach program. Every year, students from Grades 1 to 12 gather to test their mettle on unique challenges designed to sharpen their problem-solving skills. The children are there to excel—not prove they’re better than everyone else. That’s by design. REACHING FOR THE GOLD STANDARD “APEGA Science Olympics events aren’t one-winner competitions, like the actual Olympics,” says APEGA’s
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• communication • creative thinking • curiosity • self-organization
REAL-WORLD INSPIRATION To keep the challenges fresh and relevant, the APEGA team—which includes our amazing member
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WINTER 2019 PEG | 47
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