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Ingenious biofilter earns Ontario teen the 2013 Weston Youth Innovation Award

Innovators look at the world a little differently. They are curious, persistent, and use science and technology as a lens to understand the world around them. In recognizing and identifying problems, they hope to create solutions for everyone’s benefit. 18-year old Adam Noble of Lakefield, Ontario epitomizes the innovator’s spirit, and has been awarded the 2013 Weston Youth Innovation Award.

Living near the Trent Waterway, Adam Noble’s curiosity originally led him to wonder about the effects of nano-silver—a common anti-microbial material used in the production of consumer products such as cosmetics, detergents and textiles—on local water supplies.  Interested in the potential environmental and health impacts, he began to experiment with methods for detecting silver in wastewater. Through repeated testing Noble discovered that Euglena, a tiny single-celled organism, could not only detect the nano-silver but retrieve it as well.

After hundreds of hours spent in the lab, Noble has built a prototype Euglena biofilter to remove the nano-silver from water. “My research project has grown and developed in ways that I never could have imagined,” explains Noble.

“We are very impressed by Adam’s imagination and dedication to his work,” says Dr. Hooley McLaughlin, Vice President of Science Experience and Chief Science Officer at the Ontario Science Centre.  “We are sure that we will be seeing much more from Adam in the future as he continues to pursue his career as an engaged scientist.”

Noble’s work and his persistence in advocating for his ideas while engaging professionals in the field to help were seen as evidence of the skills, attitudes and behaviours of innovation that the Ontario Science Centre and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation hope to acknowledge through the Weston Youth Innovation Award. Noble will be awarded the $2,000 prize at the Ontario Science Centre on June 4, 2013. In addition, he will work with a multimedia team at the Science Centre to create an animation showcasing his project. The animation will be displayed in the Weston Family Innovation Centre and shared through the Science Centre’s social media channels. Details of his project will be posted at www.OntarioScienceCentre.ca/innovationaward.

“Our family is eager to support young people like Adam who work hard, using innovative approaches to explore real-world solutions.  Adam is at the beginning of a tremendous journey and we are delighted to recognize him," says Serena Mitchell, grand-daughter of W. Garfield Weston and representative of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

2013 Weston Youth Innovation Award Finalists

  • Jessie MacAlpine (Woodstock, Ontario), combined garlic mustard and coffee grinds to produce an environmentally friendly and effective herbicide.
  • Jamil Merali (Corbeil, Ontario), built a haptic shoe with GPS receiver, motors, and ultrasonic sensors to aid people with various physical and mental challenges.
  • Kyle Potts (Barrie, Ontario), developed a method to produce stronger-than-wood panels from agricultural waste.
  • Soumya Srinivasan (Ottawa, Ontario), designed a reliable and portable device to prevent drowning.
  • Janelle Tam (Waterloo, Ontario), discovered that nano-crystalline cellulose from trees is a powerful anti-oxidant that can be used in food, health care, and cosmetics.

The Weston Youth Innovation Award was established to encourage and recognize young Canadian innovators and was named in recognition of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation’s $15 million lead gift to the Ontario Science Centre’s Agents of Change initiative, and to honour The Foundation’s support and commitment to education.

Award Review Panel

  • Dr. Hooley McLaughlin, Vice President Science Experience and Chief Science Officer, Ontario Science Centre
  • Serena Mitchell, Representative, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation
  • Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Director, Stable Isotope Laboratory, University of Toronto, Board Member, Ontario Science Centre
  • Dr. Marc Nantel, PhD, P.Phys., Associate Vice-President – Research & Innovation, Niagara College Canada
Adam Noble Receives the Weston Youth Innovation Award
  • For general information about the Ontario Science Centre please see the Visit Us section of the webpage and for contact information please refer to our Contact Us page or
    phone: 416-696-1000.

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