Science standout years ahead, but years away

Cameron Lidkea’s latest study surrounding boxing and mixed martial arts not only knocked out the judges, but may shed light on the potential risks of head injuries and brain trauma. Lidkea’s work, which may lay the groundwork to better protect each sports’ participants, recently received Canada-wide acknowledgement, along with a $1,000 scholarship from Western – which he hopes to use some day.

Lidkea, you see, just turned 13.

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LIDKEA

The Grade 7 student from Fort Frances, Ont., wowed not only those in attendance at the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) this past month in Charlottetown, P.E.I., where he won the Award of Excellence for his Striking Difference project, but he kind-of caught himself off guard as well.

“I was shocked, and a little confused,” Lidkea said. “We were told all week by other competitors that first-year finalists never win. So I went in with no expectations of placing. I will definitely be trying to make it to CWSF 2013 in Lethbridge, Alta. I already have a few ideas on possible projects.”

For Lidkea, the road to P.E.I. began when he won the science fair at his own school, J.W. Walker School, and moved on to take third place at the regional fair. From there, it was off to Charlottetown with 500 other students from across Canada.

“The purpose of this experiment was to compare impact of punches in two combat sports,” said Lidkea, who had 18 participants wearing gloves for each sport punch a heavy bag with two high-impact accelerometer censors attached. “Overall, there was a 13 per cent greater impact using the mixed martial arts gloves, suggesting potentially a higher risk for brain trauma and/or head injury in that sport.”

He originally started a different project for the science fair, but a teacher saw he had no interest in the topic and wasn’t putting any effort into it.

“He told me to find a topic I would be interested in, suggesting something I was already involved with,” said Lidkea, who has trained in Taekwondo and wrestled for four years. “The project came together easily once I had the right topic.”

But as a first-timer to the science fair circuit, there were a few nerves.

“It is a huge event and they really make sure to remind all the finalists that PhDs and leaders of industry will be reviewing and judging your work,” he said. “My dad helped get rid of my nerves when he told me that ‘all my work was done and all I had to do was explain it to the judges. Win or lose I was getting a trip to P.E.I. and an awesome experience.’ After that, it was lots of fun.”

So with that $1,000 scholarship to Western waiting to be cashed in, is Lidkea planning a trip down the 401 to London in the next few years?

“I have always been a strong science student. It’s too early to know for sure, but I am leaning towards a career in the medical field,” said Lidkea, whose father and grandfather are both optometrists. “You never know what the future will hold. I just turned 13 so no real pressure yet.”