Lucy Hambly breaks into the world of STEM

(Lucy Hambly (bottom left) of Stittsville was recently in a Robotics competition hosted by Natural Resources Canada. Read about her experience below. Lucy is with the panel of competition judges. L to R: Dr. Felix Kwamena (Director of Energy Infrastructure Security); Dr. Kalvin Klatt (Director and Chief Geodesist of Canada); Dr. Robyn Fiori (Ionospheric Phyicist, Spacewether laboratories of Canada); Dr. Yasmina Souley-Dosso (Artificial Intelligence based monitoring of Critical Infrastructure security); and Frederic Beauregard-Tellier (Director General of Energy Systems Sector, NRCan). Photo: submitted)

Stittsville’s Lucy Hambly is proving that her talents lie not only in writing, but in STEM as well, her true passion. On the heels of her Awesome Authors award, Lucy recently earned the title of School Champion for the University of Waterloo’s Fryer math competition, having scored the highest number of points among her grade 9 peers at South Carleton High School.

“I did not expect this in the slightest,” Lucy admits of her high score, “but studying past competitions and doing practice question after practice question seemed to pay off!” The University of Waterloo hosts a variety of advanced math competitions each year for students from grade 7 to grade 12 worldwide. For grades 9–11, two math contests are available for each year – one free answer and one multiple choice.

The Fryer contest is the grade 9 free answer contest, a concept that intrigued Lucy when she chose to participate. “Getting a chance to work out the logic problems on paper and show all my work instead of simply a final answer made the whole test very fun to write!” Lucy and other grade 9 students worldwide had to answer four questions on the test, each with three parts. Two of these parts require students to show their work, with points awarded for clarity, presentation, and correct answers. The final part requires only the final answer, but showing extra work can earn contestants more points.

Lucy has been passionate about STEM for a few years, but she has found it difficult to find opportunities outside of school to explore the subject and demonstrate her knowledge. “When I heard that my school was participating in the Fryer math competition, I knew that this could be a chance for me to test my understanding in a new way! I have always loved the subject, but did not have much prior experience doing competition math.” Lucy credits her success to the study resources and tips available online, which helped her to prepare for the contest. Lucy will receive a School Champion medal from the University of Waterloo in November.

During March Break, Lucy had another opportunity to explore the world of STEM, this time in a robotics competition hosted by Natural Resources Canada. Having always been interested by the prospect of robotics, Lucy was eager to finally have a chance to try it out for herself for the first time. Over the course of the three-day robotics competition, around twenty-five students from grades 9 to 12 were split into teams of three to build and program a functional robot. The students were challenged to create a robot that could navigate a pre-built maze with ultrasonic sensors and use a thermistor to detect and move towards a heat source.

Using the materials provided, as well as Arduino IDEs to program the robot with C++, Lucy and her peers worked hard strategizing, building, and coding from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Camsell Hall. The competition judges included scientists, teachers, and Natural Resources Canada employees. The panel of judges evaluated each team’s short presentations as well as responses to questions, ultimately choosing a winning team to be presented with a trophy delivered by a drone. “Even though my team did not end up winning first place, getting accepted to participate in the competition was a great opportunity, and I made so many connections with incredibly talented people. Getting a chance to work with peers my age was a great experience, and I became very close with my two teammates by the end of the challenge.” This is the first year Natural Resources Canada ran the competition, but Lucy believes it is intended to be an annual event, one that she recommends to anyone interested in robotics.

Lucy’s ultimate passion is astronomy, which is what she intends to pursue as a career, “I would ideally like to work as an astrophysicist or astrobiologist for NASA, specifically under the topic of exoplanet detection and research. I am also incredibly passionate about computer programming, and combining my love for both subjects to improve existing technologies used in the field is something that I am currently focused on.” Alongside her interest in the sciences, Lucy also loves writing and would like to continue doing it in the future. “Writing short stories or novels alongside my main career in STEM would be the ultimate objective.”

When asked if she has any advice for her peers who might also be interested in diving into the world of STEM, Lucy says, “I would encourage anyone interested in these competitions to keep their eyes open for any opportunities available! Waiting for one to be recommended to you could take months, and the best way to gain experience in anything is to apply, even if you have not done anything similar to it before. Participating in STEM and writing contests helped me find my passions and make connections with dozens of incredibly talented people, and it could do the same for so many others! If you are intrigued by the prospect of competing in any type of contest, doing research individually is the best way to find the perfect opportunity for you. There are so many great competitions being hosted every year for every type of interest, and getting involved with them while you are young is a great way to learn what you truly enjoy doing.” Fantastic advice overall from a very talented individual.

We at Stittsville Central are eager to see what’s next for Lucy.


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