The government of Canada chose to include my Blissymbol printer in their "Bravo Canada!" exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, and Expo-Quebec in Quebec City. I never expected that my project would result in opportunities for so many exciting experiences, but I found that whenever someone showed interest in my work, I was encouraged to continue with it.
In 1990, I received a YTV Youth Achievement Award for Innovation for my invention and the Blissymbol Printer, and this year I was nominated for the Ernest C. Manning Award for Innovation. For me, the best and most exciting award is the smile on the face of a young Bliss user when he or she tries out my device for the first time.
Although I have continued to work on my Blissymbol Printer, I have used my annual science fair participation as an opportunity to pursue my interests in other areas of science as well. My other projects have included "Equitational Physics," "Disposal of Domestic Nuclear Waste," "Harmonographics: The Physics of an Artistic Novelty of the Victorian Era," "Tipping the Balance of Nature: The Absence of Zebra Mussel Predators in the Great Lakes," and "Clean, Green Power: Converting Light to Electricity through Photosynthesis of Algae."
Participation in science fairs has taught me how to conduct independent research and how to explain scientific concepts to the public. It has given me a chance to travel and has introduced me to my best friends. It has helped me to decide to study sciences in university next year.
Someday, I'll phone Bill White and tell him how much his grade seven advice has meant to me. Every time I lead a workshop of young women inventors, I think of him when I encourage them to "go for it!"
Rachel Zimmerman is a grade 13 student at London Central Secondary School in London, Ontario. She has been a student of the London public schools since kindergarten, in a segregated gifted class in grades 5-8, and on a gifted individual program in secondary school. In addition to science fairs, science Olympics and mathematics competitions, her interests include art, music, debating, Native Canadian culture, and environmental issues.