Grant Mansiere’s science fair project, examining trembling aspens, was one of 30 projects on display in Ottawa last week.
Mansiere, a Grade 12 student at Summerland Secondary School, was one of just two British Columbia students at the exhibit in Ottawa.
He began his study on the trembling aspens last year, when he saw a grove of trees with their leaves fluttering.
“But there was no wind, so how could the leaves be trembling,” he wondered.
As he researched the trees, he discovered trembling aspens are a monoculture. Each tree is genetically identical to the others.
“If an insect infestation or a fungal infestation occurs, all of these trees are very susceptible,” he said.
However, the trembling aspens have two defences against infestations.
The leaves flutter in low or no wind, and can generate enough force to fling an insect off the leaves.
Trembling aspens also have hydrophobic leaves, which repel water.
When water comes in contact with the leaves, it instantly beads and falls off. The drops of water also pick up particles of dirt or mould.
Mansiere said there is a grove of trees in Trout Creek in Summerland, where this behaviour can be observed. Anyone can pour water onto the leaves and watch as it quickly falls off.
Mansiere has had a variety of science fair entries over the years, and has attended the Canada-Wide Science Fair.
“I enjoy learning about different branches of science,” he said.
He added that he likes to take complicated scientific material and find ways to present it to various audiences, from those with no scientific background to those who are knowledgeable about the subject.