Isaac Newton knew when it comes to science, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Mackenzie Neufeld, a physics fanatic going into Grade 12 at Holy Trinity Academy, spent her summer at the Women In Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) at the University of Alberta – about 27 years after her mother Lori attend the program.
“They told me we are the first mother-and-daughter pair they have ever had,” Mackenzie said. “That’s cool. She was able to share her passion of science with me.”
Mackenzie was accepted to the program after submitting an essay and her school transcript – which included a 95 per cent in Physics 20. She is one of 47 students at the camp.
“My essay dealt with that in school the pursuit of science is so isolated,” MacKenzie said. “There are so many people that love to learn except you are constantly bombarded with schoolwork and the expectation of school that you don’t have that passion you can express for learning.
“I also described how it is an opportunity to meet like-minded people to form an effective bond with science.”
Mackenzie has made a real racquet in Edmonton, where she is focused on mechanical engineering.
Her project was to determine whether Kevlar – often used for bulletproof vests - would be a suitable material for a badminton racquet.
The project had her using 3D-modelling, something she struggled with earlier at HTA.
“I learned that things aren’t always meant to come easy,” she said with chuckle. “Coming here, I was able to devote my time and energy specifically to how modelling and software work. I figured it out and now I can use it.”
Coincidentally, Mackenzie just happens to be on the HTA Knights badminton squad.
“It’s really cool linking my passion for sports and physics, engineering and math,” said Mackenzie, an HTA cross-country runner and member of the Okotoks Track and Cross-Country club.
She said HTA teacher Bruce Dickie has fuelled her love of physics.
“He’s been very effective with me when I am struggling,” Mackenzie said. “He’s always found a way to help me and integrate my passion for physics into school physics.”
Of course, her mother Lori and dad Jeremy also helped with Mackenzie’s love of science.
Lori took cardiovascular studies when she attended WISEST.
“It really opened my eyes to the full opportunities in the science and engineering fields,” Lori said. “When I was in high school I had no idea. I was very passionate about the heart and my research in WISEST was in the cardiovascular field.”
Lori would switch to botany and biology later while attending U of A.
She is presently a biodiversity lead with Imperial Oil and Gas. Lori recently helped form Alberta’s newest provincial park near Wood Buffalo. She also works on species at risk recovery and reclamation planning. As well, she is a community garden guru in Okotoks.
(She might have stopped cardiovascular study, but she found out biology is good for the heart – she met her husband Jeremy at U of A in the process).
Lori’s proud to be part of the first mother-daughter team to go through WISEST.
“I’m very proud of Mackenzie and proud she may be pursuing her education and career in science,” Lori said.
As for Mackenzie, her goal is to attend U of A after graduating from HTA, with a goal of earning her bachelor’s of education degree.
She wants to help young people foster their love of science.
“The one thing I took out of this is, don’t be afraid to try new things,” she said. “When I was accepted into this program and it was mechanical engineering I was really scared.
"At one point, I didn’t want to do this.
“I am really glad I stuck with it – of doing something I found really difficult. It is really rewarding to see our end result being actually applied to the real world…”
For information about the WISEST program go to www.ualberta.ca/services/wisest