The 63rd Annual Eastern South Dakota Science and Engineering Fair Showcases Young Talent

Posted on: March 24, 2017   |   Category: Uncategorized
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Brookings, SD — More than 450 students from across South Dakota and northwest Iowa traveled to Brookings, South Dakota Tuesday, March 21 to compete in the 63rd Annual Eastern South Dakota Science and Engineering Fair (ESDEF), hosted by South Dakota State University (SDSU) in the Stanley J. Marshall Center on the SDSU 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 11 schools in grades 7-12.

The ESDSEF also included 112 volunteers to judge projects in 11 categories ranging from engineering and behavioral science to environmental science, astronomy, test theories and record observations. The grand champion projects in the Senior Division were awarded to Christopher De Groot and Jacob Vreugdenhil/Caden Zonnefeld from Unity Christian High School in Orange City, Iowa and Brookings High School’s Sheila Cochrane and Kashfia Rahman. De Groot, Vreugdenhil, Zonnefeld and Rahman will advance on to represent South Dakota at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) May 14-19, 2017. Intel ISEF is hosted 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 independent research projects and compete for an average of $4 million in prizes. Rahman of Brookings High School is a two-time awardee at the Intel ISEF and will compete for her third year in a row.

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 Elk Point-Jefferson 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 ESDSEF were:

  • Irene-Wakonda High School-1st place ($1,100)
  • Sioux Valley Middle School – 2nd place ($800)
  • Flandreau Public School – 3rd 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. To learn more about SD EPSCoR visit

[button link=”” target=”new” color=”default”]ESDSEF Photos[/button]