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Challenges Blog
November 2012- Archives

Origin of the Species by Sherwood Hines

In my small hometown, only once did I ever do a science project for my school’s annual Science Fair.I was in Grade Six. It was 1971. And I had just discovered paleoanthropology.”Who are we?”  I often wondered as I watched my schoolmates pound on each other’s heads at recess. “Where...

Better Living Through Chemistry by Tom Reynolds

In the days of my early twenties I was told by my doctor that I had an incurable disease. And so I did. Then, much later, I was told there was a new treatment for what ailed me. Now this illness was never really fatal, just chronic and debilitating,...

Shaken and Stirred by Leah Seltzer

I live in a place where the wind is a howling song at night.  Where thrusting cedar branches threaten to shake and stir your slumber.  Where the power flows through tenuous lines that are no match for the fate of falling trees.  Where the ocean meets the rainforest and spins...

I.V. Liquid Plumber by Robert MacKenzie

There was consensus. Her death was inevitable.She would die in a small, rich, mid-Michigan community hospital.In 1973 the technology used to confirm her dismal diagnosis didn’t exist in most large university settings but we worked in a hospital apparently unconstrained by acquisition budgets and protocols. We floated and wedged a...

Weather Relations by Erin MacNair

We were the last of the feral children, raising ourselves on BMX bikes, eating out of vegetable patches. Suburbia offered little in the way of extremes, so we tested limits and patience, but our parents were…busy. Our reward was wide swaths of freedom. If we heeded the signs, came home...

My First Radio by Elvidio Mejia

When I was a child living in the Sierra Maestra, Guatemala in the 1960s, we were disconnected from all forms of modern life. The only means of communication were the letter and the telegraph.In my village, the teacher was the only one who had the honour of owning a radio....

The Big Disconnect by Louise Fabiani

In my entire time as an undergraduate in Biology, no encounter with science had as much influence on my life’s trajectory as my first part-time lab job.The ad was for a “Clerk” in the psychiatry department, working with rats. Clerk? I pictured myself at a counter, distributing rodents to white-coated...

The Close Encounters with Science competition is closed.

We will be announcing the winner on December 5, so stay tuned. Until then, please continue to read our picks of the day....

Nuclear Family by Terri Favro

I was born in the big, fat fifties, a decade stuffed with lardy piecrusts, fluffernutters and fear. With the hands of the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight, I picked the wrong time and place to be born: Niagara may have seemed all fruit farms and factories, but as...

Salmon Run by Elizabeth Ledwosinska

We arrived in yellow school buses, scarves, rain coats and rubber boots. Running to the water’s edge, today no one stooped down to choose a pebble to skip. Folded up in our pockets, the flow charts depicting the life cycle we had drawn in class, neatly labeling the evolution from...

The Griz and Me by Mark Polet

I am a biologist, and the longer I work in this field, the more I marvel at the mystery of science, which is really the viewing platform where we glimpse pieces of the wonders of the universe. One of those moments of wonder arose while monitoring creeks in the McLeod...

By Jesse Dressler

Most of our moments in life are forgotten forever. Some memories you wish you could forget. I had probably wished to forget it in my younger years, but when it came back to me it was a memory of innocent times.Now in Grade One almost everything was new. I was...

A Mad Scientist in the Making! by Raymond Maher

It was long ago and far away. I was in the first year of high school, but still mostly an impressionable kid at heart. Television had come to our home at long last and the power of television commercials could twist me around the advertisers' fingers like thread. I never...

Wondrous Magnets by Amber Stechyshyn

As a young child, I had a thing for magnets.Normally, we kept them on the kitchen fridge so my mom or dad could tack things on, like paintings my sister and I created, important business cards, emergency phone numbers for babysitters, and so on. Some of the magnets were just...

By Anne Spencer

Meal worms were the answer! As  teacher of this elementary class I found them perfect for my insect unit. Cheap. Easy to keep .And would obligingly turn into beetles before the end of the term.  We had fifteen jars of them on the classroom window ledge. Now, in education week,...

Car Wash Kitty by Edward Yatscoff

The King Car Wash was the first automatic car wash in town and had recently opened.  Everyone said it was the best ever, anywhere. I cranked the wheel and drove in. With me was my sister's orange cat, Binkie, who I was kindly transporting to her new apartment. The cat...

Phase One by Renate Pohl

In a past life I was a scientist. I died, and woke up an artist.If the first phase of dealing with grief is denial, I passed through it the moment I signed up for the Robotics Workshop at International Space University. I was the only artist in attendance at the...

Pumpkin banana cream mousse tart by Sylvia Shawcross

There are some of us who just don't belong on the Internet. We just don't.We, the technically illiterate, charge onto the Internet with unbridled optimism, curiosity and unfortunately a whole lot of innocence. That’s when the trouble begins.We, for instance, haven't developed the skill of self-restraint in forums where blithering...

The 1977 Discovery of Gravity in the Tim Hortons Parking Lot by Mark Paterson

I was five when Quebec’s first Tim Hortons opened and it was right in my hometown of Rosemere. My parents were quick to convert, but it took me some time to shake the feeling that I was betraying Dunkin’ Donuts.Getting doughnuts was a nighttime activity for us, something we did...

Fired by Maggie Panko

“Aye, see here, Private! You’re getting your weapon all wet!”He was right. I was crying all over my rifle. A corporal with a brash Scottish accent took a cotton rag from his pocket and dragged it over the hold. Jerking up, the corporal put his hands on my shoulders and...

By Liam McKenna

When I was a child, everything about dinosaurs fascinated me. I would run through the forests around my parent’s property, crouching to avoid the imaginary beasts that populated it, marvelling at their gargantuan size and seemingly extraterrestrial diversity. I loved science fiction, but the most completely realized world presented to...

Mrs. McGregor-Smith Was Right After All by Rachel Williams-Oakes

I can remember sitting in Mrs. McGregor-Smith’s junior kindergarten class when she told us that our brains looked like cauliflower.  Then and there, at four years old, I decided Mrs. McGregor-Smith must be wrong. I had already imagined my own brain to look like a large gold circle with a...

Reggie and Me by Michael Back

My first meaningful relationship with technology was as a grade 5 student in Ottawa in the fall of 1979 as I pondered potential science fair topics.  What did I really know about science?  My parents were both PhD chemists but what could I do?  Was I doomed to failure and...

Paddling With the Jellies by Jane Langille

The ocean is a flat sheet of emerald glass as my 13-year-old son and I set out in a tandem kayak. We glide in soft rhythm as each stroke takes us into Newman Sound, one of the long fingers of Bonavista Bay that reaches into Terra Nova National Park to...

The Rules of My Nature by Christine Montgomery

In the eighth grade, I discovered that subjects and predicates moved me and that grammar was my forte.  I was an idiot savant.My father prided himself on his mathematical prowess.  That I was clueless beyond simple calculations was proof that I took after my mother.  I believed his words; they...

Finding my Way by Genevieve Ross

I pondered the final assignment my teacher passed to me. It was the same as what he handed to my fellow Industrial Design students (I was a “mature-students”); next month, we would comprise the graduating class of 1995. This assignment, more of a challenge really, was optional, for bonus marks,...

Bedside Vision by Jennifer Barr

The tea was lukewarm. I considered popping it into the microwave but I was too entranced. I sat in my pyjamas curled up on the couch and read the hand-written letters from my grandmother. The words each placed eloquently on the paper and post cards years before. My eyes were...

Life Lesson by Angela Mombourquette

I only have one vivid childhood memory that involves my big brother; he’s 12 years older than I am, so I never had the chance to get to know him very well.It was late July, 1969, and Paul had just spent 10 days on the living room floor in front...

Call for submissions: Close Encounters with Science

From one competition to the next...The CBC Short Story Competition has just closed and already we've got another challenge for you (if you're up for it, that is).This month, Canada Writes has partnered up with the Canada Council for the Arts and The Massey Lectures for our Close Encounters with Science...