Local student meets Governor General
Ryder Wyatt, a student a Lacombe Junior High School, had the opportunity to meet Gov. Gen. Julie Payette on Wednesday night during her first official visit to Alberta. (Photo supplied)
A young Lacombe resident’s Heritage Fair project has launched him into a meeting with the Governor General of Canada.
Ryder Wyatt, a Grade 7 student at Lacombe Junior High School, was just following his own interest when he decided to base his project on the Canadian Space Agency. Little did he know his passion and enthusiasm for it would get him noticed by some of the country’s most prestigious dignitaries.
Winning best in Grade 7, then best overall awards, Wyatt got to meet Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell during the fair, who then invited him to attend an event she is hosting for Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, a former astronaut, during her first official visit to Alberta.
Wyatt says his initial reaction was shock.
“She (Lt.-Gov. Mitchell) came over and I gave her the regular judge presentation. She told me to get my dad and I went ‘uh oh,’” he said. “She then told us we were invited to meet Julie Payette. It’s really exciting.”
Wyatt’s interest in the space agency was born from trips to the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. While Canada’s contributions aren’t often front and centre, he said the country’s innovation has led to breakthroughs and advancements for the space program.
Perhaps the best example is the Canadarm and Canadarm 2 – which were included in his project, including as part of a model shuttle.
“One of the fun things about the Canadarm 2 is it’s not actually attached – it crawls around the outside,” he said.
While it was a heritage project, the idea tied in with his strong focus and interest in science – including space and black holes.
His father, Tim Wyatt, said he and his wife had to keep reminding him the project was a history one.
“He was getting into the science, which was great, but we had to ask him why does that matter?” Tim said.
“We’re working towards the future of not only Canada but the rest of the world,” he said.
“Instead of having hunger and all these issues on Earth, we can have somewhere to escape to. Through Canada’s work we can get to that stage. If it hadn’t been for our innovation we wouldn’t be able to get there.”
A national contest of sorts, Heritage Fair is often rolled into the curriculum for students in grades 7-9. School level fairs are held, with the winners moving on to regionals, and finalists there heading to Ottawa for the National History Fair.
Wyatt is currently in the process of putting together a video as part of his bid to head to the nation’s capital, but ultimately, he’d like to work towards leaving Earth’s atmosphere himself one day.
“I’d really like to go to Mars, but mom’s not going to let me,” he said.
For now, he’ll have to settle for meeting someone who has left the planet’s surface.