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Essay Submission Deadline: April 22, 2014

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 alternative energy

    This topic is concerned with the emerging field of materials chemistry and nanotechnology, specifically focusing on the application of nano-materials in creating alternative energy sources, or storing energy in innovative ways.

    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 importance of metals in biology

    This topic is concerned with the role of metals/minerals in biological systems. Pick a metal-containing protein and explain what it does in biology and why the metal is essential.

    The essay might

    1. Deal with one specific protein or a group of proteins with related functions
    2. Describe this type of protein with respect to general structure and bonding, and physical and chemical properties
    3. Describe experiments carried out to isolate and identify this type of protein, and understand its structure and function
    4. Describe the key role of the metal in the function of the protein
    5. Describe the benefits of this evolving understanding to the community; the country; the world.
  3. The Role of Polymers and Colloidal Aggregates in combating disease

    This topic deals with the use of Synthetic Organic Chemistry in delivering therapeutics and screening for human diseases. For this essay, students should select and concentrate on one disease or type of disease that is treated using polymers to deliver drugs, or screened for using colloidal aggregates.

    The essay might

    1. Briefly describe the symptoms of the disease and how they are related to the chemistry of the screening process
    2. Describe experiments carried out to understand the chemical basis of the screening process, or the effectiveness of delivering therapeutics in polymers
    3. Describe monitoring systems used to measure effectiveness of treatment
    4. Describe the benefits of this type of treatment to the community; the country; the world.
  4. The Contributions of a Canadian Scientist To Materials Science

    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


See the previous year 2013 essay topics