Apr 11, 2005

Two Minnesota Students Get Top Honors for Science Projects

According to a report from the U.S. Commission on National Security in the Twenty-First Century, "More Americans will have to understand and work competently with science and math on a daily basis." Yet, the percentage of high school graduates pursuing science and engineering degrees is declining. So getting students interested and involved in science has become more important than ever.

Students Kim Braulick from St. Mary's Junior High School in Sleepy Eye, Ari Klages-Mundt from Winona Senior High School and Matt Wolfe from Cotter High School in Winona find science very interesting and see future opportunities in the field. All were honored recently with the Seagate Rising Star Award for their outstanding project work at the Minnesota Academy of Science State Fair.

Introduced last year, the Seagate Rising Star Award, sponsored by hard drive leader Seagate Technology, is intended for students whose projects not only exemplify excellence in their category but also display high degrees of difficulty, creativity and innovation. Two awards are presented - one for a junior high project and the second for a senior high project. The junior high Seagate Rising Star Award winner receives a trophy and $1,500, and the senior high winner receives a trophy and $2,000.

"Criteria for this award were based not only on excellent work but also on the presenters' ability to capture the imagination of our judges," said Donald Deal, Seagate senior engineer and lead Rising Star judge. "We could see how portions of the technology they used in their projects could be used at Seagate. And it was refreshing to see that these students realize how fun and interesting science can be."

Braulick, an eighth-grader, worked on "The effects of varying pH and temperature on dying wool." She and her family raise sheep and she wanted to learn more about lamb's wool and the wool industry. Braulick said she learned a lot by doing this project and would like to continue her research for next year's science fair.

Klages-Mundt and Wolf, both ninth graders, worked on "Engineering of a hybrid wind-solar electric generation system." For them, it was the interest of finding alternative sources of energy that led to this project. Together they plan to continue researching their findings.

More than 450 students in grades seven through 12 throughout Minnesota participated in the 68th annual Minnesota Academy of Science State Fair. Awards were given to students who participate with a project, research paper, or both, in one of the following 14 categories-Behavioral and Social Science, Biochemistry, Botany, Chemistry, Computers, Engineering, Environmental Science, Geology, Gerontology, Mathematics, Medicine and Health, Microbiology, Physics and Zoology.

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