South Dakota’s First Annual Southwestern Counties Science Fair showcases student research

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Martin, SD. — Students from Bennett County School District gathered at the Activity Center in Martin, South Dakota on Friday, March 24, 2017 to showcase their research projects in the first Annual South Dakota Southwestern Counties Science Fair.

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 30 student research projects, representing approximately 58 students in grades 6-12 in two categories; Biology and Physical Sciences.

8th grade students Hunter Laverack and Henry Johnson were awarded grand prize honors for their exemplary student research project titled Here Fishy Fishy. Laverack and Johnson will receive an all-expense-paid trip to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) as an observer, sponsored by the South Dakota Experimental Program to Simulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR). Intel ISEF will be held in Los Angeles, California May 14-19, 2017. It hosts approximately 1,800 students from more than 75 countries, bringing together the top young scientific minds to showcase their research on an international stage. Student participants compete for approximately $4 million in prizes. Laverack and Johnson also received a first place finish for their research project in the Biology category followed by 8th grade students Nicole Porch and Colton Rosane in second place, for their research project titled Bye Bye Bacteria. In the Physical Sciences category, Grace Jager, a 7th grade student received first place for her project titled Tempering Chocolate followed by an 8th grade student project Founding a Foundry by Carlos Reyes and Kadyn Farley who received second place.

“Hosting this pre-regional science fair was by far the most rewarding and exciting experience in my teaching career to date,” said Mary Jo Fairhead, Bennett County School District science teacher and fair organizer. “The passion and engagement the students showed for their work was something I will never forget!”

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.

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