Cranbrook student wows at global science fair

Judges, students in Taiwan impressed by geo heating design.

Cranbrook’s Keltie Murdoch displays her fourthplace certificate at the Taiwan science fair.

Cranbrook’s Keltie Murdoch displays her fourthplace certificate at the Taiwan science fair.

A local high school student has taken her science project all the way to the international fair in Taiwan, and returned home with a fourth place finish.

After wowing judges in Canada, Grade 12 Mount Baker student Keltie Murdoch took her environmental engineering project Geo Air to the Taiwan International Science Fair from January 29 to February 5. She placed fourth in the engineering category against students in grades nine to twelve from Taiwan, Mexico and Switzerland.

“Winning an award this year was a complete surprise. I was surrounded by so many high-level projects that I didn’t expect to rank,” Keltie told the Townsman after returning to Cranbrook.

“I found that the judges in my category seemed to like projects that examined local issues and looked at ways of solving them. While my project was simple, it was proven to effectively reduce a local issue.”

Keltie was accompanied to the fair by her mentor, College of the Rockies instructor Sandi Lavery.

ltie in her fourth place finish in the engineering category at the Taiwan International Science Fair. I am also extremely proud of her for being such an incredible ambassador for Canada, and Cranbrook, B.C,” said Sandi.

Keltie’s project, Geo Air, is an innovative form of geothermal heating for the home. It uses air blown into buried tubing, pushed through a heat pump that is housed in a chamber outside the building, then piped into the home’s existing heating system. The air is warmed once when it passes underground, and another time in the heat pump. In summer, the heat pump pushes cool air into the home, and expels warm air. Using Keltie’s design, homeowners could see as much as a one third reduction in their heating bill.

“Most of the Taiwanese students and judges were fascinated by how cold it gets in Canada, and how efficient the summer air-conditioning part of my project was. They asked a lot of questions about high volume air conditioning for the summer, as it gets very hot on the island and most buildings are several stories tall. I had many extra judges stop at my project not to judge, but to chat and ask me questions,” said Keltie.

Now back at Mount Baker Secondary finishing up Grade 12, Keltie is hoping to be accept into the University of British Columbia’s School of Engineering.

“I am very confident that we will hear more of Keltie’s innovative and creative engineering in the future,” said Sandi.

During their visit to Taipei, Keltie and Fort St. John student Kevala Van Volkenburg were billeted with Taiwanese families. As well as schooling Keltie on local food, the host family took her to the Taipei 101 skyscraper, Mengjia Longshan Temple and several night markets.

“The highlight for me was trying all the new foods in Taiwan, which are nothing like the foods in Canada. I made it a goal to try everything I was offered, and they fed me very well,” said Keltie.

Students from 21 countries attended the International Science Fair, including Germany, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

“I tried my best to meet each one, which resulted in great friendships and connections from all over the globe,” said Keltie.

On the final night, the students had a farewell part where each country gave a short cultural presentations and exchanged gifts.

“It was a lot of fun, but of course it was very hard to say goodbye,” said Keltie.

Sandi made some valuable connections as well at the fair and gave a presentation on rural science fairs in Canada.

“It was very interesting to hear that the challenges we face in inquiry-based science and math at our rural area are very similar to all countries that participated in the fair,” said Sandi.

“I too have many new educator friends around the world who are passionate about having our youth become more engaged in their communities in researching and solving local and global issues around science and math.”