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Perham High School students who competed at the regional science fair at the University of Minnesota campus in Crookston were, left to right: Jay Klatt, Curtis Swanson, Maria Lorenson, Kanyon Edvall, Michael Thompson and Paul Schoeneburger. They will all advance to the state science fair. Submitted photo

Science Research Team takes top honors at regional fair

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Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Students on Perham’s Science Research Team took three of the top four places at a regional science fair on March 1.

The competition, which was held at the University of Minnesota campus in Crookston, brought together about 50 student-run research projects.

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Among those, Perham’s students stood out, said Shawn Stafki, the team’s advisor. This was the first year (in a 15 year history) that Perham swept the top three spots.

“I always tell them, just be happy if you advance to state,” said Stafki.

Well, they did that and more.

Maria Lorenson won first place for her work studying how leftover birth control hormones (ethinyl estradiol) in the water can affect the development of zebrafish eggs.

“The most challenging part was to continue to collect high quality data as each trial went on,” Lorenson told the Focus. “I got sick and tired of checking on my eggs all the time, but it paid off. It was really rewarding to be able to analyze data that showed a significant difference.”

Stafki said Lorenson took a picture of the eggs every two hours, for four or five days, to document their development.

Lorenson will advance to the state science fair, which will be held in Minneapolis March 30 through April 1. More than 450 other Minnesotan students will be there.

As a regional winner, she will also advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. There, her project will compete against 1,500 other projects from 70 countries.

Lorenson also won the Overall Excellence Award, Outstanding Achievement for Ability and Creativity in In vitro Biology, and a Blue Award at the regional fair.

Michael Thompson and Kanyon Edvall teamed up for their project on using Bluetooth to triangulate a location with a smartphone app they created. They took second place in Overall Excellence and will also advance to the state science fair. They also won the Yale Science and Engineering Award, Naval Science Award (includes $50), Intel Computer Science (includes $200) and a Blue Award.

Curtis Swanson took the third place Overall Excellence Award with his project studying lead fragments in hunting-harvested venison. He also won a Blue Award and will advance to the state competition.

Jay Klatt and Paul Schoeneberger both earned Blue Awards as well. They will also advance to the state science fair.

Stafki said the students had free reign over their projects and came up with their own, original plans, adding, “I’m just a mentor and a guide.”

Perham was well represented in other ways: Stafki said he was told on several occasions that, “Your kids are always the most amazing science kids. Whatever you’re doing in Perham, keep it up.”

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