Toronto’s Evangeline McLaren Devenyi cooked up the winning entry in the Chemical Institute of Canada’s annual, “It’s Chemistry, Eh?!” YouTube contest.
The Chemical Institute of Canada’s (CIC) fourth annual “It’s Chemistry, Eh?!” YouTube contest for high school students saw Evangeline McLaren Devenyi, a Grade 12 student at Northern Secondary School in Toronto, take first place and a cash prize of $500 for her entry, The Chemistry of Baking.
Devenyi, who was “super excited” about the win, says the three-minute video was the chance to combine her love of baking with her love of science. Devenyi analyzed the complex chemistry involved in the creation of bread, pies and cookies, explaining how two classes of proteins in gluten: glaidin and glutenin, give dough its elasticity and texture. Yeast, a single-cell fungus, is also key to baking, as it consumes sugars, thus releasing both carbon dioxide and ethanol, causing bread to rise. Devenyi also explored the Maillard Reaction, responsible for pastry’s warm brown colour and enticing aroma. Using black and white footage from 1930s and 1940s advertisements, The Chemistry of Baking was not only a science lesson but an homage to a bygone era, when baking was part of the daily household ritual.
Two University of Toronto Schools chemistry teams, under instructor Suzanne Monir, had an excellent showing in “It’s Chemistry of Baking video takes the cake in YouTube contest Suzanne McLaren Chemistry, Eh?!”, taking second place and tying for third. Grade 11 students Shreya Jha and Judy Chen, who collaborated on The Chemistry of Ant Bites, won the $300 second prize. Beautifully produced, the video analyzed insect bites and how the chemical makeup of certain plants made them excellent therapeutics by countering the base or acid of a bug sting.
Fellow Grade 11 students Julia Pandolfo and Laura Wu created Chemistry in the Wild, a highly useful video for adventurous sorts who risk getting lost in the desert. The pair demonstrated how to distill drinking water from urine. First, a small pit is dug and filled with leafy plants. Next, the lost adventurer urinates into the hole, which is then covered with plastic wrap, thereby creating a greenhouse effect and capturing evaporating moisture. At night, when desert temperatures drop dramatically, the evaporated moisture from the urine condenses and is funneled into a container for rehydration.
Pandolfo and Wu shared the third place prize of $200 with York Mills Collegiate Institute students Christine Jing and Yuke Guo, who created the video Resurrecting Chemistry, a futuristic look at chemical scholarship.