Students compete at the 2017 South Central South Dakota Science and Engineering Fair

Posted on: March 23, 2017   |   Category: Uncategorized
Andes Central

Mitchell, SD — Students from across south central South Dakota and north central Nebraska traveled to Mitchell, South Dakota Tuesday, March 21 to compete in the South Central South Dakota Science and Engineering Fair (SCSDSEF), hosted by Dakota Wesleyan University.

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 6-12.

“Science fairs taught me to think creatively and analytically,” said fair judge Justin Krell of CHS Farmers Alliance. “Going through the process of developing my own original research has taught me the value of STEM education and how important it is for solving real world issues,” Krell is a former SCSDSEF competitor and three-time participant at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). He was a recipient of the second grand award in the Environmental Management category in 2012.

The Senior Grand honors for innovative student research was awarded to Thea Patrick and Alexander Rodriguez, students at Mitchell High School and a joint research project by Emma and Noah Heezen, students at Plankinton High School. Each of these students will advance on to represent South Dakota and compete at the Intel ISEF May 14-19, 2017. Intel ISEF is hosted in Los Angeles, California and 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 will present their independent research projects and compete for approximately $4 million in prizes.

Avon School District students Derek Pelton, Tate Wynia and Cassie Voigt’s projects were also selected to attend the Intel ISEF in May as observers. One of the observers will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Intel ISEF sponsored by SD EPSCoR.

SD EPSCoR in partnership with Fisher Science Education also presented the High School Science Lab Makeover award to Andes Central High School. The award is $5,500 that can be used towards the purchase of equipment, technology and research supplies for the classroom to help support student research projects. Schools also competed in the SD EPSCoR and Fisher Science Education School Challenge Award in which students whose top three scoring research projects have the highest mean scores receive award money towards the purchase of STEM classroom equipment and supplies. School Challenge Award winners at the SCSDSEF were:

  • Avon High School -1st place ($1,100)
  • Mitchell High School – 2nd place ($800)
  • Plankinton High 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

Click here for link to fair photos