The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) celebrates the accomplishments of Cindy Cheng of Laurel Heights Secondary School.

Cindy is a Grade 10 student at Laurel Heights and has a passion for math and science. This year, Cindy was selected as one of only eight students to represent Canada at the 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Dallas, Texas from May 14-19.

Regeneron ISEF is the world’s most prestigious youth Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) project competition. So Cindy went through an extensive process to be selected for Team Canada. Cindy and her fellow candidates went through a months-long application process that included multiple rounds of report submissions, presentations and interviews. It is a great accomplishment to be selected, and the WRDSB is incredibly proud of Cindy for her achievements!

The following is a little about Cindy in her own words:

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your interests, hobbies, and favourite subjects?

“A few of my hobbies include playing on the school badminton team and playing the flute with the Laurel Heights’ junior jazz and concert bands. My favourite subjects are maths and science: in particular, I enjoy biology, chemistry, and material sciences.”

What draws you to science and engineering?

“Science quite literally makes the world go round. Every phenomenon can be explained with science, from the microscopic cells that we’re made of to the immense celestial objects floating light-years away from our planet. What first drew me to science, however, wasn’t massive explosions or invisible particles: it was the seemingly inexplicable mundane experiences that could suddenly be understood. Mirages on a hot summer road were no longer mysterious and uncontrollable magic but rather a simple sequence of events.

Similarly, I believe that through science, a solution—or improvement—can be found for every situation. What has propelled humans beyond other species is not our physical attributes but rather our ability to innovate, a process which is intrinsically tied to understanding science. This is another reason why I am drawn to science: scientific innovation and knowledge is constantly improving. There is always something more to do, to learn, to ponder, to discuss, or to solve.

Our understanding of the world is never safe from change. One of my favourite quotes comes from the renowned physicist Feynman, who once said, ‘[w]e are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible because only in that way can we find progress.'”

What does going to the Regeneron Science & Engineering Fair mean to you?

“Going to the fair is very significant to me. I have been interested in STEM for as long as I can remember, and I have developed scientific projects since the fourth grade. However, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic brought STEM competitions such as science fairs to a halt, and as such I have never been able to present a project in a non-virtual format since leaving elementary school. While the virtual fairs that I have previously participated in—our local Waterloo-Wellington Science and Engineering Fair (2021, 2022), the Canada-Wide Science Fair (2021), and the hybrid Regeneron ISEF (2022)—were still significant experiences, I am thrilled to finally be able to meet and present to other young scientists and judges alike in a face-to-face format. Going to Dallas is the result of all of my previous experiences and many months’ work, so I am certainly excited.”

Who is your favourite teacher at Laurel Heights? How have they helped you get where
you are today?

“While the entirety of my project development occurred outside of a school environment, all of my teachers at Laurel Heights have helped me learn more and challenge my knowledge in every subject. I would have to say that I don’t have a single favourite teacher. However, if I had to thank a teacher, it would have to be Mr. Nelson, for accepting the responsibility of being the teacher sponsor for our Science Club, for which I serve as an exec, despite his busy schedule (and also being an excellent badminton team coach).”

Is there anything else you would like to share?

“I would like to encourage anyone interested in STEM to consider participating in a science fair! The pandemic significantly affected participation in these fairs; even at this year’s fair, which was once again in-person, there were much fewer participants than before the pandemic. These fairs are excellent opportunities to expand your scientific knowledge, push yourself, and meet with other like-minded people!”

Join us as we wish Cindy luck as she represents the WRDSB and Canada at Regeneron ISEF 2023!

Congratulations and good luck!