When it comes to light, less can definitely be more according to a research project by Summerland Middle School student Grant Mansiere.
In fact, the thoroughness and quality of his work, as well as the somewhat surprising results, wowed the judges so much at this year’s Canada-Wide Science Fair in Windsor, Ont. the Trout Creek teen received multiple awards.
In addition to the gold medal in the junior excellence category, Mansiere won the Actuarial Foundation of Canada honours and the Award for Excellence in Astronomy. That included a $4,000 entrance scholarship to Western University and other cash and prizes totalling $1,700.
“Certainly I was surprised when I first got to the science fair. I didn’t think I had a chance. There are some incredibly smart kids out there,” said Mansiere. “Competition was very stiff but I had a great time and met some wonderful people.”
One of the most significant findings of Mansiere’s research and something which has been identified in similar studies, is that more light does not mean less crime and can actually increase it.
While he has been able to convince most of the doubters, not everyone is convinced.
“It’s hard for people to understand but what surprised me is how nicely things lined up. I wasn’t expecting such a blunt response from my study, but that’s what I got, where there’s light there’s crime,” said Mansiere. “I just want to get the word out and people to think about it.’
His interest in the matter came following the murder of hockey mom Julie Paskall in Surrey and the request by area residents for increased lighting.
“But the relationship (between light and crime) seemed more complex,” he said. “My question was, is there a connection between light from streetlights and homes (measured as skyglow) and different types of crimes?”
His results came from using three methods of light analysis and RCMP data to determine crime rates per street in Summerland and Penticton.
In addition to the crime ratio to skyglow, Grant also believes it can cause health problems for people, negative issues for plants and animals and difficulty for astronomers.
Part of his project was also looking at lighting options to reduce skyglow.