YES they can – and they did

The engineering and scientific prowess of high-school students from across Canada was put to the test at York on May 6 at the 29th annual York Engineering & Science (YES) Olympics. The games, which took place at the Petrie Science & Engineering Building at York’s Keele campus, attracted more than 1,000 students from schools in the Greater Toronto Area. The overall winner of the games, which were sponsored by the Imperial Oil Foundation, was Vincent Massey Secondary School from Windsor, Ont.

Right: York Faculty of Science & Engineering Dean Nick Cercone addresses the participants of the 2008 York Engineering & Science Olympics

"The YES Olympics is one of the largest and most important outreach events in the Faculty. This year we hosted 1,000 of the most enthusiastic, talented and vocal high school students from all over Ontario. It was like a thousand Paula Wilsons [associate dean, student affairs] in one room, tremendous energy," said Nick Cercone, dean of York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. "It requires the combined efforts of faculty, staff and students and generates a tremendous amount of enthusiasm across all departments."

Students from 57 different schools competed in the competition, which featured an eco-awareness theme. Each challenge focused on using scientific knowledge to solve complex environmentally related exercises. Among the more difficult tests was Eco-Chef Challenge, which asked students to choose the most ecologically friendly toppings for a pizza by calculating the carbon footprint created by transporting various toppings. The team from Holy Trinity High School from Richmond Hill, Ont., seized the day by consuming their custom designed eco-friendly pizza.

Left: Eco-chefs work on calculating the carbon footprint of their eco-friendly pizza

The Sustainable Shuttle Launcher Challenge required the most elaborate design input by participants. The event required the construction of a device that could launch a small paper shuttle the maximum distance without using a hydrocarbon fuel source. The winning team from Monsignor Percy Johnson Catholic Secondary School in Toronto launched a paper craft several hundred feet, far exceeding all of the judges’ expectations.

The Imperial Oil Science Outreach Program at York University supports three science education and outreach programs in co-ordination with the Faculty of Science & Engineering. The outreach teams include the Science Olympics, the Science Speakers’ Bureau and the Science Explorations Summer Camp.

"We are very grateful for the generosity of the Imperial Oil Foundation in supporting this wonderful celebration of science and engineering," said Paul Marcus, president & CEO of York University Foundation.

For more information, visit the York Engineering & Science Olympics Web site.