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Essay Submission Deadline: April 15, 2015

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 chemistry of global atmospheric change

    This topic is concerned with the role of chemicals and chemical reactions in the atmosphere and the changes they are bringing about in the global climate. Pick a compound or a family of compounds and explain the impact of the material(s) on the environment.

    The essay might

    1. Deal with one specific compound or a family of compounds
    2. Describe this type of compound with respect to general structure and bonding, and physical and chemical properties
    3. Describe experiments carried out to isolate and identify this type of compound in the atmosphere,
    4. Describe experiments carried out to find how it got into the atmosphere, and understand its role in atmospheric change
    5. Describe the benefits of this evolving understanding to the community; the country; the world.
  2. Targeting ABC transporters in cancer

    This topic deals with the role of ABC transporters in delivering controlling cell processes, and how they might be manipulated to control or combat disease. For this essay, students should select and concentrate on one disease or type of disease that is reliant on ABC transporter function.

    The essay might

    1. Briefly describe the symptoms of the disease and how the disease is related to ABC transporter function.
    2. Describe experiments carried out to understand the chemical basis of this relationship, or the effectiveness of interfering with this relationship
    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.
  3. 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 creating markers and sensors for identifying disease indicators in the human body.

    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.
  4. The Contributions of a Canadian Chemist To Combating Disease

    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 2014 essay topics