2 students from Greater Victoria named Youth Innovation Showcase finalists

Two Grade 8 students from St. Michaels University School are finalists in the Science Fair Foundation BC Youth Innovation Showcase competition.

Liam Pope-Lau and Fraser Tuck are up for a chance to win a $5,000 prize for their LifeHeat project, described as a self-heating life jacket.

Pope-Lau was inspired to create LifeHeat after falling into the ocean while learning to sail the summer before starting 6th grade.

“It was so cold,” he said in a statement. “When I got home I was thinking about hypothermia and how many people die in cold water every year, and I just thought it was something that could be prevented.”

Pope-Lau teamed up with Tuck as the next science fair season began to find a solution to keep people warm in cold water.

“I was also really into sailing, so when Liam came up to me I was like, ‘wow, that’s a brilliant idea,'” Tuck said. “We really wanted to make sure there was nothing you had to shoot or anything like that, so we wanted to use a reaction that would happen instantly.”

The classmates eventually designed life jackets with pockets filled with calcium chloride, which produces heat when exposed to water.

They have now created a dozen prototypes and pitched LifeHeat to the Youth Innovation Showcase judges in late October.

Showcase winners will be announced on November 30.

“Winning would allow us to work harder and improve the quality of our project,” added Pope-Lau. “This award would help us buy more hardware that we need to keep improving our project and maybe help get it more widely known. What we need are materials and testing time. We want to make sure that there are no errors in our tests and in our data.

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