Sun Peaks School student qualifies for Canada Wide Science Fair

A student from Sun Peaks School says his project ‘is like an Amber Alert but for your heart.’
A teenager with blonde hair and glasses is on the left side of the image holding a computer chip. He is wearing a long-sleeve dark blue shirt. A man stands beside him on the right side of the image wearing a short sleeved light blue shirt and is also holding a computer chip. The background shows the periodic table of elements at Sun Peaks School.
Sun Peaks School student Julian Generaux and teacher Keith Massey hold microbits, a computer chip used in Generaux’s science project that qualified him for the Canada Wide Science Fair. Photo by Liz McDonald.

Julian Generaux, is representing the Sun Peaks School in May at the Canada Wide Science Fair.

Generaux, who is in grade nine, developed a portable electrocardiogram (EKG), which records electrical signals from heartbeats and uses a radio signal to remotely transfer heart data. The EKG uses telemetry, which gathers and sends data remotely through sensors for analysis. 

His project was one of two that won first place at the Cariboo Mainline Regional Science Fair April 12 at Thompson Rivers University, qualifying him for the national competition in Edmonton May 14 to May 19.

Generaux made his EKG using a microbit, a credit-card-sized computer for teaching youth how to code. This technology was launched in 2015 by The BBC for one million students in the United Kingdom during the Make it Digital campaign.

The remote nature of Generaux’s EKG allows long-term patterns to emerge from monitoring someone’s heart, a feature that isn’t available when someone visits a health centre periodically. 

“[It has] code in it so it reads your heartbeat. And for example, if your heart stops, it will send a signal to emergency services, or in the case of my project, it just sends a radio signal to another receiver. So it’s kind of like an Amber Alert but for your heart,” Generaux explained.

He designed the technology for people with heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease or arrhythmias, and says the tool can assist people to live life to the fullest.

“Maybe they’re a little worried about going out into the wilderness for skiing, hiking, or kayaking. The point of this is, yes, it saves lives, but it also lets people have lives and not be worried about their health,” Generaux told SPIN.

Sun Peaks School: Modern classes for the modern world

Keith Massey teaches at Sun Peaks School and encouraged Generaux to compete in the science fair. 

Working with School District 73, Massey sought funding to purchase microbits for the applied design skills and technology course he teaches to grade eight and night students through a grant from Kids Code Jeunesse.

When he contacted Kids Code, Massey discovered the grant had ended, but the non-profit organization still donated 30 microbits to Sun Peaks educators anyway.

The Sun Peaks Parents Advisory Council purchased additional microbits for the school for $1700 so more students can learn coding.

Providing students with access to the microbits technology keeps them up-to-date and ready for the modern job market, Massey told SPIN.

The mini-computer chip can code diverse creations, from watering plants to creating alarm systems – including heart monitors like Generaux’s.

A blue cardboard box holding items used for making microbits is in the centre of the photo. A plastic case holding more items beside it. The boxes sit on a table inside a school portable.
Microbits kit used to teach coding to youth at Sun Peaks School. Photo by Liz McDonald

Engineering his future

The exceptional 14-year-old thrives in science and math and is cross-enrolled in grades nine and 10 for these courses. He’s passionate about engineering, astronomy and astrophysics and also has an interest in law.

Generaux is enrolling in online schooling through Athabasca University for sciences once he’s 16 – the youngest age accepted at the university. 

Generaux told SPIN if he enjoys the engineering courses, he’d like to enroll at UBC Vancouver and complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering. If he decides to pursue astrophysics, he will continue at Athabasca University before working toward a master’s degree.

Preparing his project over four weeks was stressful, he said, but a good learning experience. Generaux is improving the online submission for the project to prepare for the national competition in Edmonton. Competitors must come equipped with an in-person presentation as well as an online version.

Massey said Generaux’s interest in microbits is something he’s proud of as an educator.

“I’m really proud of Julian’s accomplishments,” he said. “It’s so cool to see a student just take a simple radio transmitter device in class … and run with this cool project.”

In the future, Generaux hopes to add AI to the EKG to detect more arrhythmias, increasing the complexity of his technology’s response in order to differentiate between mild danger and serious heart failure.

When asked how he hopes people use his project, he told SPIN, “that’s up to people who buy it after I patent it.”

Editors Note, May 15, 2023 at 8 a.m.: This article has been updated to correct the inaccurate spelling of Generaux’s last name.

Help us bring you more local news

SPIN has been able to serve Sun Peaks as its sole news source for over 20 years thanks to the overwhelming support of our community. Join over 126 of your neighbours and become a monthly or yearly member so that we can continue to regularly publish the digital newsletters and stories our readers rely on.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top