A pair of Grade 8 students at St. Michaels University School are finalists in the Science Fair Foundation BC’s Youth Innovation Showcase.
Liam Pope-Lau and Fraser Tuck have a chance at winning a $5,000 prize for their LifeHeat project, described as a self-heating life jacket.
Pope-Lau was inspired to create LifeHeat after he fell into the ocean while learning how to sail the summer before starting Grade 6.
“It was so cold,” he said in a release. “When I got home, I was thinking about hypothermia and how many people die in cold water per year, and I just thought, this is something that could be prevented.”
Pope-Lau teamed up with Tuck as the next science fair season began to find a solution to keep people warm in cold water.
“I was also really interested in sailing, so when Liam came to me, I was like, ‘wow, that’s an awesome idea,’” Tuck said. “We really wanted to ensure that there wasn’t anything that you had to pull or anything like that, so we wanted to use a reaction that would instantly happen.”
The classmates eventually designed life jackets with pouches filled with calcium chloride, which produces heat when exposed to water.
They have now created a dozen prototypes and presented LifeHeat to Youth Innovation Showcase judges at the end of October.
The winners of the showcase will be announced on Nov. 30.
“Winning would let us put in more work and make our project higher quality,” Pope-Lau added. “That prize would help us buy more materials that we need to keep improving our project and maybe help get it seen more widely. What we need is materials and testing time. We want to make sure there are no errors in our testing and in our data.”
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