In statistics, the term “outlier” refers to a data point that differs markedly from other observations. In recent times, the term has come to refer to individuals whose talent and industriousness put them well outside the norm. At Vista Virtual School, however, outliers are kind of the norm. As a result of VVS’ flexible educational delivery model, the school has long been a magnet for students pursuing high-level trajectories in sports, the arts, and other fields. We are, in truth, a community of outliers.
Colin Fearing is one such outlier. A 15-year-old Canmore resident, Colin is no ordinary grade 10 student. A prolific 3D graphic designer, videographer, visual artist, and inventor, he has already won several awards for his work, most recently a silver medal for the Edmonton Region round of Skills Alberta 2021 in the video production category and a Silver Key in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (for photography), as well as $2,000 prize from Mindfuel.ca’s Tech Futures Challenge Project Pitch Competition & Showcase for the category of Best Project Pitch.
In the video production contest at Skills Alberta, in which he won his silver medal, participants were given seven hours to write, film, and edit a one-minute video based on a specific theme. While the competition was designed for teams of two, Colin represented VVS as a solo participant, meaning he needed to do the work of two.
“I had to film everything on “school grounds”, which in this case was my house,” Colin explains.
“The intense time pressure made it both stressful and exciting, and I finished with only a few minutes to spare. The theme was: “At this point in your life, what is the most valuable and useful concept, knowledge/idea or skill that you have learned in school, and why?” My response was basically, “Don’t wait to be taught, go learn!”
As of the writing of this article, Colin’s Skills Alberta 2021 adventure is not yet over. He has also thrown his hat in the ring in the 3D character animation, which runs on April 15, a domain of animation he concedes he still has a great deal to learn. Not that he is any sort of novice in this area. The young multimedia wizard first stormed onto the Skills Alberta stage last year, winning gold for his submission “My Dream Summer”, a whimsical 30-second 2D/3D computer animation that combines paintings, 3D modelling, cloth simulation, stop-motion, and other effects.
Colin’s triumph in this year’s Skills Alberta competition comes on the heels of his prize-winning MindFuel.ca project pitch, which was for a machine learning design technique aimed at reimagining the production of metal fasteners (any type of metal fastener) so as to consume less metal. At present he is at work on the second half of this project, which involves refining his designs and 3D-printing some prototypes in metal form.
In his rare moments of down time between school and design projects, the Canmore native enjoys skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and playing video games with his friends. As with many of VVS’ outliers, Colin’s outsize ambitions and creativity are greatly supported by the flexibility offered by online learning.
“I appreciate the flexible learning schedule at VVS, which allows me concentrated time to focus on interesting side projects in between chunks of schoolwork,” he says.
“I wouldn’t have been able to enter any of these contests otherwise.”
Got a great VVS student success story? Are you a student with mad skills you’d like to share with the world? We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to reach out to our communications coordinator Ben Freeland at email@example.com.