Tri-Sci Tourney at York University tests science skills of Grade 11 students

Approximately 60 Grade 11 students from six schools across Toronto and York Region participated in the third-annual Tri-Sci Tourney on Feb. 21. The event was hosted by the Faculty of Science and Bethune College.

One of the Tri-Sci Tourney teams working on a problem

The full-day event, which took place in the Life Sciences Building, saw the students vying for the most points and a chance to win the highly coveted trophy. Helping the teams was a dedicated group of intrepid undergraduate student leaders from York University. The winning team was from Markville Secondary School. Of the two Markville teams entered in the competition, one won first place and the other came in third. St. Augustine Catholic High School’s team finished second.

The students used their science skills to compete in timed quiz rounds, including an activity round hosted by Let’s Talk Science. Some of the hands-on activities arranged for the teams were RNA strand decoding, pH testing, ocean acidification testing and determining the turbidity of three solutions followed by creating a filter to clean the solution with the highest turbidity. The Bright Lights activity involved students trying to hit targets in mirrors with lasers.

Team efforts dominated the day as groups worked through the challenging problems and scenarios

Reema Rahman, a master’s student at York University, formulated the idea for the tournament when she was in her fourth year of her undergraduate program, as part of a hands-on, experiential education leadership project for BC3010 (Advanced Peer Leadership), taught by Faculty of Science lecturer Tanya Da Sylva.

Da Sylva, who is also the academic co-ordinator at Bethune, helped to organize the tournament. “The Tri-Sci Tourney has grown over the last three years, with this being our largest tournament yet – 10 teams!” she said. “It’s a great day, where high school students get a chance to interact with York science undergraduates and have a lot of fun. The students took great pride in their quiz performance and we hope to see their schools back next year.”

In addition to the various challenges testing the students’ knowledge and ingenuity, there was also a tour of the Allan I. Carswell Observatory.

“This is an event that showcases the best of York science, including state-of-the-art facilities and an enthusiastic army of undergraduate volunteers,” said Associate Dean Alex Mills of the Faculty of Science. “It also happens to be a lot of fun, both for our high-school visitors as well as our undergraduate leaders.”