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May 22, 2012

Plankinton student places second, Avon students receive special award at
Intel International Science, Engineering Fair

Alyson Roth and Emily Mudder, both of Avon High School, and Justin Krell and Taylor Kinyon, of Plankinton High School, attended the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May. Roth, Mudder and Krell all came away with honors – Krell placing second in his category.

MITCHELL – Four regional budding scientists recently attended the world’s largest high school science research competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and three came home with honors, including one second-place award.

Justin Krell, 15, Plankinton High School, received a second-place award of $1,500 in the environmental management category for his project, “Cutting Down Crude: An Ingenious Concept.” Krell was one of four second-place awards in his category.

This year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, held May 18 in Pittsburgh, consisted of 1,500 students selected from 446 affiliate fairs from approximately 70 countries. Student winners are ninth- through 12th-graders who earned the right to compete at the Intel ISEF 2012 by winning a top prize at a local, regional, state or national science fair.

“We knew our projects were good, and we have placed high before, but whenever one of your students takes home an award as high as second at an international fair with 70 countries competing, well that is really something,” said Dr. Mike Farney, director of the South Central South Dakota Regional Science and Engineering Fair held annually at Dakota Wesleyan University, where Farney is a math and physics professor. 

Avon High School juniors Alyson Roth, 17, and Emily Mudder, 17, were awarded a special award in second place for the Alcoa Foundation for water research with their project, “Using Colorimetry to Monitor Nickel Contamination of Water,” which monitored dissolved metal contamination in water streams.

“We were very surprised by the warmth, inclusion and acceptance of people from different cultures at the ISEF competition,” Mudder said. “We have had the best time of our lives meeting new friends and learning how many others are as excited by science as we are. We really appreciate the support of industrial sponsors to encourage us to pursue our scientific interests.”

The students were accompanied by Jody Strand, assistant science fair director at DWU, and Dr. Joan Lubben, DWU assistant math professor.

Farney, who worked closely with Lubben and three area high school science teachers, Julie Olson, Mitchell High School, Paul Kuhlman, Avon High School, and Bob Sprang, Plankinton High School, said that the work each instructor put in and the support of the parents was undeniably beneficial to the students’ success, but it was each student’s personal work that brought them their achievements.

“We’ll explain the math to them that they need in order to do their own work, we’ll look at their grammar,” Farney said. “And a bright student will say, ‘you’re right, I’ll go the extra mile, I’ll read the extra book, I’ll do the extra mathematics, because my project demands it.’ The judges can ask them anything and they won’t let us down, because it’s all theirs. From beginning to end, it’s all theirs.”

Farney said that he has received emails and phone calls all times of day or night, and will come into the DWU labs after hours to meet with students. The instructors’ role is to instruct, to guide, to teach the students what they need in order to find their own solutions, and it has paid off.

“When we first walk in (to the international fair) from South Dakota with our little projects, we aren’t always embraced by big research labs,” he said. “But we do our thing, and it’s ours, and that’s the big thing. Our science is first-rate, world class.”

Dakota Wesleyan University hosted the 20th annual South Central South Dakota Regional Science and Engineering Fair March 20 and chose Krell; Taylor Kinyon, Plankinton High School; and Mudder and Roth to attend the Intel International fair.

Ali Haines, of White Lake High School, and Isaac Smith, of Mitchell High School, were named Student Observers. Because neither could attend the fair due to prior commitments, Amanda Reiff, of Avon High School, and Tye Harris of Plankinton High School, took their places as an observer.

Julie Olson was named a Fellow of the Society for Science and the Public which earned her the right to name additional student observers. Those student observers were Miranda Goldammer and Aspen Bechen of Mitchell High School.

Due to the success of the South Central South Dakota Regional Science and Engineering Fair’s winner at International, Strand was also invited to represent the regional fair at the Affiliated Fair Technology Focus Group session for Small and Midsized Fairs. This opportunity will familiarize Strand with SSP’s plans for developing outreach and resources that will keep young people engaged in science, she said. She would also have the opportunity to make suggestions to the program, prior to release.

In addition to DWU, sponsors for the regional fair include The Daily Republic, Touchtone Energy Cooperatives, Sixth District Medical Society, Twin City Fan Companies, LTD., and Logan Luxury Theatre.

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Last updated: 5/22/12