National 'Peace from Science' Award

This award, sponsored by Science for Peace and administered through Youth Science Foundation (YSF), was first offered in 1987, when it was won by a project on Nuclear Winter. The co-winners, two high school girls from Ottawa, were taken to the opening days of the UN-sponsored Disarmament and Development Conference in New York in August.

The following year few of the nominated projects seemed to be specially aimed at our award, and none were judged to be both suitable and of a calibre to warrant an award. Although there was a feeling then that a nationwide student awareness campaign might be warranted, no action was taken other than the standard fliers from the YSF.

In 1989 action was unfortunately delayed on the National Award because of reorganizations at YSF and in Science for Peace. The message that both Angelo Mingarelli and Jim Neelin, respectively President and former Secretary-Treasurer of the Ottawa Chapter of SIP, would be on sabbatical leave and replaced by Ron Shigeishi, was overlooked and the nominations sat all summer.

Nevertheless, one of the nominated projects was deemed by the jury, consisting of the above-named three, to be worthy of an award. This is a well documented and well illustrated project entitled ‘How Space Technology Can Help Mankind’ by Valerie Olmsted, a 17-year old, grade 11 student (in early 1989) at Selkirk Secondary School in Kimberley, B.C., where she resides. She was nominated by the Chairperson of the East Kootenay Regional Science Fair. Because of the lateness of our decision, Valerie was offered a trip to Vancouver to receive a cash prize of $500 rather than a trip to a peace conference. The award was made at an awards banquet at Science World in Vancouver, and Valerie’s hosts were Stella Atkins and Vera Webb.

About the time of the selection of the 1989 National Award winner, we learned that YSF is making major changes in the administration of its award programs, with important consequences for our sponsorship. Firstly all sponsors of awards will have to be members of YSF. For Science for Peace, with fewer than 600 members, this would cost $200 per year; in fact I have recommended membership to Science for Peace before, since YSF provides us with expensive services, including countrywide publicity. Secondly there will no longer be National Awards independent of the Canada-wide Science Fair (CWSF), but rather, Special Awards at these fairs ‘for excellence in a project done in an area specified by the awarding organization’. Such awards must be for a minimum of $250 or equivalent and henceforth must be offered for a minimum of three years. Thirdly, sponsors must provide highly qualified judges at every CWSF, held in different centres across Canada each year. Fourthly, sponsors must pay a participation fee of $200 annually to cover the costs of administration and a brochure. There is as well a fee for participation in the 94 Regional Science Fairs through the YSF; although we have never done this, it might be one way of increasing awareness of the ‘Peace from Science’ Award, if we continue it. The deadline for accepting these new terms and participating in 1990 was not later than December 1 (when agreements were sent out to potential sponsors). Obviously we could not meet this deadline with its major implications for our commitment, both financial and organizational.

When I learned of these plans, I informed the Executive of Science for Peace and recommended that we not sponsor a Special Award in 1990. Meanwhile, we can consider whether we wish to institute a new form of award in the future. If so, I suggest that we explore co-sponsorship with an organization with similar goals to help defray the expense and to spread the workload, even though it will doubtless lead to more complicated administration.

J.M. Neelin, Ottawa Chapter

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