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Essay Submission Deadline: April 14, 2013

General Guidelines for Sources and Evaluation Criteria

The topics and topic-specific guidelines listed below will give contestants ideas about the type of information to search for and include in their essay. This general introduction gives insight into what evaluators look for, and general sources of information useful for all topics.

In evaluating the essays, we look for

  • clear, concise, grammatically correct writing that condenses the important points of the topic into the 500 - 600 words allowed
  • accurate chemical explanations, with some chemical insight, without propaganda or political judgements
  • reputable sources used

Depending on the topic, contestants may find that science newsmagazines like Chemical and Engineering News or Scientific American or topic-specific websites (eg. Nobel, NASA), will present a good overview of the subject for a general understanding. Basic textbooks may also serve this purpose. However, students will do well to consult more advanced academic references such as reputable research journals to ensure that their information has scientific merit as currently understood by reputable scientists working in the field.

  1. The impact of nano-materials on disease detection

    This topic is concerned with the emerging field of materials chemistry and nanotechnology, specifically focusing on the application of nano-materials in disease detection.

    The essay might

    1. Deal with one specific nano-material or a class of compounds
    2. Describe this type of nano-material with respect to general structure and bonding, and physical and chemical properties
    3. Describe experiments carried out to synthesize this type of material and understand its structure and reactivity
    4. Describe the applications of one (or various) of these materials
    5. Describe the benefits of this evolving technology to the community; the country; the world.
  2. The scoop on quantum chemistry

    This topic is concerned with the application of quantum mechanical principles to describe the structures of atoms and molecules; and how this description can be used to predict chemical reactivity.

    The essay might

    1. Construct a timeline for historical experiments that led to our current understanding of quantum chemistry
    2. Explain the main scientific idea/process at the core of quantum chemistry
    3. Describe experiments being carried out today to push the frontiers of our understanding
    4. Describe the benefits of this evolving understanding to the community; the country; the world.
  3. The Role of Enzyme inhibitors in combating disease

    This topic deals with the use of Synthetic Organic Chemistry in interrupting biochemical processes that cause various human diseases. For this essay, students should select and concentrate on one disease or type of disease which is treated with enzyme inhibiting medication.

    The essay might

    1. Briefly describe the symptoms of the disease and how they are related to the biochemistry of the system
    2. Describe experiments carried out to understand the chemical basis of the symptoms . how enzymes are involved
    3. Describe experiments that show the role of enzymes inhibitors in combating the disease
    4. Describe monitoring systems used to measure effectiveness of treatment
    5. Describe the benefits of this type of treatment to the community; the country; the world.
  4. The Contributions of a Canadian Scientist To Spectroscopy

    This topic is directly relevant to the grade 11/12 science curriculum, and includes historical information as well as leading edge scientific work. It might contain brief biographical information on the individual(s) profiled, to the extent that such information sheds light on the scientific motivation of the individual(s). However, the main focus of the essay should be on the scientific contribution the individual has made, and how it has advanced the field in which the individual works. To identify potential subjects, students might search the web sites of major Canadian universities, research institutes, research hospitals, and chemical companies, in addition to the information sources listed in the introduction above.

    The essay might

    1. Describe the background of the researcher(s) involved in the breakthrough, to the extent that it sheds light on his/her/their scientific motivation
    2. Describe model(s) used in or developed for the research
    3. Describe how the scientific contribution made by this individual has changed (is changing) the direction of scientific understanding and/or technology in the field
    4. Describe the benefits of this discovery to the community; the country; the world.

>> Essay Contest Entry Form

Format, Deadlines, Eligibility, Evaluations and Awards