SD EPSCoR awards South Dakota schools to improve school resources

Posted on: September 22, 2016   |   Category: Participant Spotlights
Timber Lake High School Cropped

SD EPSCoR High School Science Lab Makeover and School Challenge Competition awards improve South Dakota schools’ educational resources


SD EPSCoR is strengthening STEM education in rural and tribal schools across South Dakota by creating a state science fair network that provides hands-on, problem solving research experiences for secondary school students.


 SD EPSCoR is providing expanded opportunities for state high school students by creating the infrastructure to allow for increased participation. Examples of the infrastructure investments are registration web pages and an online registration database to accommodate the growing number of students participating in the state’s four regional science fairs. SD EPSCoR in partnership with Fisher Science Education which helps improve the capacity of high schools to support student research through its High School Science Lab Makeover and School Challenge Competition awards that encourage research participation. Students compete for these awards on behalf of their schools to improve their school science laboratory programs. The awards are given out at each regional science fair. The High School Science Lab Makeover award is given to rural, disadvantaged schools (using the USDA definition) participating in a regional science fair for the first time. Three School Challenge Competition awards are given at each regional science fair (gold, silver and bronze) to the schools with the highest average of three student research projects. Awards can be used for the purchase of new equipment, materials and supplies or other items that can be used to support student research leading to science fair participation.

“I have never in my 16 years of teaching had an opportunity to purchase state of the art lab equipment for my classroom,” said Extreme Lab Makeover award recipient LuAnn Lindskov, “When the boxes arrived it felt like Christmas in July.”


SD EPSCoR supports K-12 STEM education throughout South Dakota across all academic levels but focuses its efforts on high school students.

With the High School Science Lab Makeover and School Challenge Competition awards SD EPSCoR has made awards to 12 schools across South Dakota in 2016. These awards totaled $29,000 and are divided amongst each of the four regional fairs ($7,250 per fair). In a unique EPSCoR/public partnership, these awards are cost-shared by Fisher Science Education. In addition to funding provided by SD EPSCoR, Science Fisher Education enhances these awards by contributing an additional $1,000 to the High School Science Lab Makeover Award and $500, $250 and $100 prizes to the School Challenge competition. An important component of part of this partnership is that Fisher Science Education also provides every school in South Dakota with a 25 percent discount on every item in their catalog plus it waives the associated shipping charges. The effective outcome of this partnership is to increase the annual O&M.

SD EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR Grant Number IIA-1355423 and by the State of South Dakota.