The 62nd Annual High Plains Regional Science and Engineering Fair sees a rise in student research projects

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More than 700 students from across western South Dakota traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota Tuesday, March 28 to compete in the 62nd Annual High Plains Regional Science and Engineering Fair (HPRSEF), hosted by South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSM&T) on the SDSMT campus.

A science fair research project is a capstone learning activity that helps students understand and apply the scientific method, develop their problem-solving skills and serve as the basis for exploring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. The fair showcased research projects from 25 schools in grades 6-12.

The HPRSEF saw an increase in attendance this year with more than 250 additional student participants than 2016. The fair also included 120 volunteer judges to evaluate research projects in 4 categories in each of the junior high and senior high divisions. Categories included biological sciences, engineering, physical science and social sciences. The grand champion in the senior high division with the highest overall score was awarded to Elsie Dubray, an 11th grade student from Timber Lake High School for her research project titled Bison vs. Beef: Analyzing Fatty Acid Components and Potential Health Benefits. Dubray will receive an all-expense-paid trip to represent the High Plains Region at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) May 14-19, 2017. The Intel ISEF will take place in Los Angeles, California and hosts approximately 1,800 students from more than 75 countries, uniting the top young scientific minds to showcase their talents on an international stage. Student participants will present their research projects and compete for an average of $4 million in prizes. Sara Barnica, a 10th grade student also from Timber Lake High School was awarded the Intel ISEF runner-up qualifier award for her project titled The Effect of Color Preference on Quick Problem Solving Young Students.

Jay-Shawn Milton, an 11th grade student from Lower Brule Tribal School was selected for his exemplary student research project titled Can Meal Worms Eat it All? and will receive the South Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR) observer award. Milton will receive an all-expense-paid trip by SD EPSCoR to attend the 2017 Intel ISEF as an observer.

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR), in partnership with Fisher Science Education also presented the High School Science Lab Makeover award to Hill City High School, a $5,500 award to be used towards the purchase of equipment, technology and research supplies. Individual schools also competed in the SD EPSCoR and Fisher Science Education School Challenge Competition in which schools whose top three scoring student research projects have the highest mean scores receive award money toward the purchase of STEM classroom equipment and supplies. School Challenge competition winners at the HPRSEF were:

  • Timber Lake High School – First place ($1,100)
  • Thomas Moore Middle School – Second place ($800)
  • Spearfish Middle School – Third place ($525)

SD EPSCoR is focused on building the human infrastructure that is necessary to drive South Dakota’s STEM-based economic development. A primary vehicle for providing these experiences is strengthening the state’s regional science fair programs. The U.S. Department of Education’s recently released STEM 2026 Vision report reinforces the SD EPSCoR vision to foster growth in science and technology and drive innovation by making investments in research-based, hands-on STEM experiences in K-12 classrooms.

SD EPSCoR promotes and supports educators, research faculty and programs in STEM with a mission to increase South Dakota’s science and technology research capacity, provide educational opportunities for all students and promote science-based economic development for South Dakota. SD EPSCoR is supported by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR Award IIA-1355423 and by the State of South Dakota.

HPRSEF Photos
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