Oro-Medonte’s Maya Burhanpurkar, 16, competed on Canada’s Smartest Person
Unlike other contestants on the recent season premiere of the CBC TV show Canada’s Smartest Person, Maya Burhanpurkar didn’t have to apply to be part of the competition. Her reputation as a science prodigy bought her the ticket.
“A few years ago, I won the Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 award and as a result of that, I got invited to be on the show,” said the 16-year-old Oro-Medonte Township resident.
She was one of four contestants selected to be part of the first episode, which was filmed in August and aired Sunday.
“It was a wonderful experience,” she said. “It was great to meet the other competitors and to interact with them.”
The show follows the theory of multiple intelligence, pitting contestants against one another while performing a variety of tasks that test their visual, musical, linguistic, logical, physical and social prowess. The two people who score the highest overall after being tested on five of those categories get a chance to move to the next round, known as the Gauntlet, where they are given a challenge based on the untested intelligence to determine who will move on to the next stage of the competition.
With her background in science and research, Burhanpurkar thought, “My strongest intelligence would be in the logical area. But on the show, I did best in the musical and the visual areas.”
Taking the lead from the beginning, she astonished her competitors, who were at least 10 years her senior.
She made it to the Gauntlet, scoring the highest, but lost in the final challenge by a few seconds.
“There was a physical challenge, and I was up against a 32-year-old male who had far more physical prowess than I do.”
Smartest person or not, Burhanpurkar certainly has her hands full with projects that could have far-reaching effects.
“A few years ago, I was invited to be a part of a research project in the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic in the Baffin Island area, and I became acutely aware of the plight of the Inuit people due to climate change.”
She started working on a documentary that shows conditions of the Inuit. She hopes to soon release her work, titled 400 PPM.
The science whiz is also working on a project she believes will change the way medical care is delivered to those in the remote areas of the Northern Canada.
“I’m working on a project that allows doctors and medical volunteers to use a video-conferencing tool to give their time and expertise in remote areas.”
She’s currently pilot-testing the Live Interactive Field Evaluation (L.I.F.E.) program in Africa and would like to see it used to aid doctors to practice medicine in the North without having to physically be there.