Fom left: Cheryl Chen, a Grade 9 student at Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning, and Stuti Sharma, a Grade 10 student at Sullivan Heights Secondary with their prototype of “Spero,” an asteroid-mining procedure. The two were presenting at the South Fraser Regional Science Fair at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey on April 4 and 5. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey students develop prototypes for ‘hope’ at regional science fair

From asteroid mining to a bionic hand

This isn’t Cheryl Chen and Stuti Sharma’s first science fair.

In fact, the two showcased their first prototype for asteroid mining at the same fair last year.

“Last year, it was our first year with asteroid mining. We were really new to that idea, so everything was very, very hypothetical. We were not sure if it was going to work, but this year, because of our experience we have tried to make it more tangible, so as you can see, we have more components here,” said Sharma, a Grade 10 student at Sullivan Heights Secondary.

Chen and Sharma were just two of the students showcasing their projects at the South Fraser Regional Science Fair at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey on April 4 and 5.

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This two-part project began as “Seed” in 2018, finally being renamed as “Spero,” which is Latin for “hope,” said Chen, a Grade 9 student at Surrey Academy for Innovative Learning.

“Back then, it was called “Seed,” which meant nothing in particular, which we were roasted by judges for. This year, we tried to nuance it a little bit more, flush things out because a lot of our projects have been about astrophysics, it’s always been kept in the hypothetical,” said Chen, who plans to go into computer science and biochemistry when she graduates.

“We tried to make it something you can conceptualize easier, something that’s not for science fiction, but something that we would see in our near future, so specifically with how urgent environmental change is.”

Spero, said Chen, is their twist on what an asteroid-mining prototype could look like. She said the prototype includes a few main modules, such as detection for tracking and locating asteroids; extraction for actually mining once it lands and how to get the minerals into the system; and a central hub for the power supply.

Sharma said the two have planned out how to mine different types of asteroids, as well as the physics of “exactly what orbit we’re going to, the speed, etcetera, mapping out every detail of how we’re actually going to get to that asteroid and from there how to mine those asteroids.”

The two decided to create an asteroid-mining prototype, Sharma said, because they recognized the resource depletion.

“We wanted to find a way in which we can harvest resources in an eco-friendly manner. What we did is we wanted to look at resources beyond Earth and we designed a spacecraft that would be able to do exactly that but by mining asteroids,” said Sharma, adding that asteroids are “very densely packed with multiple elements.”

Sharma, who plans to go into astrophysics after high school, said with the asteroid mining, they can use the resources “for our benefit on Earth.”

Also along the lines of hope was 15-year-old Mankeerat Sidhu’s bionic hand prototype, “Hand for Hope.”’

Sidhu, a student at Khalsa School, said Hand for Hope “translates all the signs and the movements” made on one hand, which uses a glove, to the bionic hand.

He said the bionic hand could have multiple uses, such as explorations in space and underwater, work in factories and for amputees and people in the medical field.

“That’s why it’s Hand for Hope. It’s giving hope to so many more industries,” said Sidhu. “I think it can open a lot of doors for new industries.”



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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