Thursday, March 27, 2014

High school science fair brings young minds to SMU for presentations

by PAul scHMitt

Full of an interest in science, 142 students from area middle and high schools participated in the Southeastern Minnesota, Western Wiscon- sin Regional Science and Engineering Fair held in Saint Mary’s Univer- sity’s Gostomski Fieldhouse on Friday, Feb. 28.
Boasting students from all age ranges and interests, the fair was judged by SMU science department students and faculty, as well as mem- bers of the local science and engineering contingent. Projects ranged from research of light pollution in area cities, to the most effective type of end- ing for a short story, to experimenting with the efficiency of geothermal heat pumps. Many of the projects had important real world consequence even for the local area, such as the research of Emerald Thompson-Jerec- zek, from Fountain City, WI, which was concerned with emissions from the Alma power plant in Wisconsin.

Awards were presented the same evening. Winning the fair and advancing to the International Science and Engineering Fair in San Fran- cisco, Calif., Winona Senior High School student Lucas Derbyshire’s proj- ect was titled “Optical Activity of Saccharides.” A variety of other awards from organizations such as the Air Force, the American Psychological As- sociation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were also given, and some students will advance to the Junior Science and Hu- manities Symposium to present the papers they wrote on their research. “For me, the science fair goes beyond the display board on the table,” said Derbyshire earlier that day. “It’s about the dedication and hard work that goes into it.”

All of the students at the fair showed exactly that dedication just in being there for the entire day, bombarded by questions from judges and spectators. As a classic hallmark of secondary education, the science fair continues to live strong.

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