Cross through time

Hammarskjold High School Grade 11 student Emily Cross peers through a microscope in the school's science lab on Wednesday.

Emily Cross is kind of a time traveller this month. She’ll follow up a trip into history with a journey into the future to talk about the past’s influence on the world of tomorrow.

The Grade 11 Hammarskjold High School student stretched her legs out and shook off the last of the jetlag on Wednesday after arriving home from Europe to witness ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

The teen cannot put her luggage away just yet because she will be heading to Washington, D.C., next week for the X-STEM Science and Engineering Festival. The event is a symposium aimed at inspiring students about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Cross has been selected by the United States Science and Engineering Festival and the U.S. Department of Defense to be one of the 23 keynote speakers at the event and will be one of only two Canadian presenters. She will also be the youngest.

Cross will represent Sigma Xi, an international honour society of science and engineering of which she is an associate member.

Her presentation on April 28, The Future of the Past, is designed to inspire young scientists to pursue scientific research in fields that examine the past and how it influences the present. Her presentation will reach up to 370,000 students and educators via live presentations and video-conference technology.

“I’m going to be talking about how age shouldn’t limit the quality of your research and how you can be a high school or middle school researcher and have high quality research with valuable results,” she said.

Cross said the honour came after she competed at an international science fair last year with her ironstone research project and received an invitation to become a member of Sigma Xi. Her science fair project was based on the removal of opal and fossils from ironstone.

“Ironstone is really hard and the current methods of extracting the opals and fossils took a lot of manual effort and damaged the fossils and opals.” she said.

“I discovered geochemical treatments that will break down the ironstone without damaging the opals and fossils.”

Cross said she researched different chemicals and tried them out on the ironstone, which she acquired from Alberta and Australia.

In Grade 9, Cross’s science fair project involved her researching the weathering of rocks that were used to make stone tools.

“This was to find out how specific types of layers of weathering on stone tools were created, and if you could identify the source material of a stone tool based solely on its layer of weatherings,” she said.

Cross is an international award-winning youth scientist. She won the Sigma Xi High School Geoscience Medal in 2016, took first place in the 2015 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) American Geoscience Special Award, was fourth in the 2015 and 2016 ISEF Earth and Environment Grand Award, and earned a gold medal at the 2014 Canada-Wide Science Fair. She also has multiple regional science awards.

Cross future lies in the past as she aspires to become a paleontologist and study fossils, prehistoric animals and evolution.

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