Lumsden student to represent at Canada-Wide Science Fair

Lumsden High School student Zoey Farago is heading to the Canada-Wide Science Fair with her sleep deprivation project. She was one of four students chosen to represent the Prairie Valley School Division at the national event being held in Regina this May. Photo by Sarah MacMillan.

Staying up for 56 hours in the name of science has paid off for a Lumsden High School (LHS) student.

LHS student Zoey Farago is one of four students chosen to represent the Prairie Valley School Division at the Canada-Wide Science Fair being held in Regina this May.

Farago was awarded the honour at the Prairie Valley Regional Science Fair held in Lumsden April 4, the student winning Best in Fair with her sleep deprivation project.

The LHS student said she was inspired to study sleep deprivation because of her own sleep struggle and what appears to be a growing trend.

“I don’t sleep very much, I’m sleep deprived, and almost everyone I talked to, they said they are too,” Farago said. “So it’s something becoming more and more common.”

To study sleep deprivation, Farago stayed awake for 56 consecutive hours, testing herself with seven tests every eight hours, checking functions such as her short-term memory, alertness, awareness and creativity. She noted one of the main objectives of her project was to test creative insomnia.

“I found that as you get more tired, creativity is induced,” said Farago. “So I did find that creative insomnia happens.”

The student also discovered both awareness and short term memory, apart from visual memory, decrease the more tired an individual becomes. But visual memory remained functional, and Farago reasoned it is because of a link with creative insomnia.

Farago found that her reaction time improved as the study progressed, and sleep deprivation did not impact her basic math skills. She said she was surprised by her basic math and reaction time results.

“I assumed they would have deteriorated but they actually got better,” she explained.

“It also surprised me that I wasn’t that affected from what I could feel. I felt dizzy and I had headaches and stuff, but I wasn’t hallucinating, there wasn’t anything absolutely crazy.”

When asked if she would recommend staying up for more than 56 hours, Farago said its something to do if a person has writers block or wants to create an amazing piece of art, but if taking a math test the next day, she wouldn’t advise it.

Farago is one of four students heading to represent Prairie Valley at the Canada-Wide Science Fair May 14-20. Farago is heading to nationals alongside runners up Rory Petrichuk from Balcarres, Connor Crook from Greenall High School and Brittany Weisbeck from Vibank.

The Lumsden High School student was participating in the local science fair for the first time since elementary school.

She said she was encouraged to undertake her project by LHS teacher Carla Cooper.

Cooper helped to facilitate the regional fair and was one of the judges evaluating this year’s student projects. The fair brought around 95 projects from across the division.

“Any school that does a science fair can come and compete,” said Cooper.

The fair is open to students in Grade 5 and up, with students in grades 8-12 eligible to head to the national science fair.

Cooper recognized that while judging she saw how students are progressing in science.

She referenced Weisbeck’s project “The Wonderful World of Induced Stem Cells.” Cooper recognized Weisbeck attended the Canada-Wide Science Fair two years ago, and noted her level of science has increased, the student’s project this year well at university level.

“You can see the exposure to the Canada-Wide (Science Fair) and the confidence it brings out in students,” said Cooper.

The instructor recognized that when selecting projects to move on to the national level, judges not only take into consideration the student’s score but also how the experience could help inspire the student to the next level of science.

At the Canada-Wide fair students will have an opportunity to win one the the competitions numerous prizes.

“Canada-Wide gives away around a million dollars in scholarships and prizes,” said Cooper.

The instructor recognized how science fairs, such as the regional fair, can help cultivate student interest in science.