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Students earn top honors at state science, engineering fair
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:26 AM
Several Chatfield students competed at the Minnesota Science and Engineering Fair, earning some notable recognition and awards. From left are Luke Dietz, Matt Dietz, Bennett Gathje, Justin Friedrich and Lincoln Salisbury. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Justin Friedrich hypothesized that an idea is a solid.
Matt Dietz was in it for the well-dressed feedback.
"First, doing a project is about getting a solid idea and doing your data collecting in an orderly fashion," said Chatfield High School senior Friedrich, who was one of five students representing Chatfield Public Schools at the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair. The event was held Saturday, March 29, through Monday, April 1, in Bloomington, Minn., where approximately 500 middle and high school students presented their hypotheses, methods and solutions to judges seeking the most innovative science projects in the state.
Senior Matt Dietz, Friedrich, freshman Luke Dietz, eighth grader Bennett Gathje and seventh grader Lincoln Salisbury gathered their best theories, put them to the test and came out quite well at the state science fair.
Friedrich was a Top 10 finalist at the North Central Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium with a paper entitled "Cardiovascular Conditioning Related to Activity." He competed against 70 other paper presenters and earned the Outstanding Achievement Award sponsored by the Minnesota Academy of Science. The award is given to six students who conduct exceptional research and presentation of their results.
Friedrich was also named one of 10 High School STEM Communicator Award Honorable Mention recipients for his scientific paper. He was a Grand Award Silver Level winner - recognized for being in the top 15 percent of all state projects. He was named as one of the top 10 male student winners by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and was awarded a one-year membership to AAAS, a T-shirt, travel mug, pen and sling sack. He also received the Seagate Emerging Scientist Award and a trophy for the top 10 percent of first-year state science fair participants.
Chatfield High School science instructor Nora Gathje pointed out that Friedrich brought home the most awards ever won by a single Chatfield High School state science fair participant.
Gathje also shared that Matt Dietz, whose project encompassed work with human stem cells, won the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Award, which recognizes the best high school project in clinical laboratory science. He was also a Grand Award winner at the bronze level - in the top 30 percent of all state projects, and was a STEM Communicator Honorable Mention recipient.
His brother, Luke, won the Best Exhibit Award given by the Science Museum of Minnesota - recognizing the most engaging and informative exhibits. Luke built a working solar panel out of recycled aluminum pop cans. He received a one-year membership to the Science Museum.
Gathje added that Bennett Gathje, who attended the fair for the third time, was recognized by the American Psychological Association for excellence in psychological research and was presented with a certificate for his analysis of student academic performance.
Friedrich felt that his efforts and accomplishments were validated because it is "just nice to know that the work I put into my project gets recognized at the state level, and it's also nice to be able to represent Chatfield at the biggest stage."
He said competition was "much tougher at state than at regions" and getting ready meant that if any changes were made to his project, they had to be meaningful. "Everyone up there has worked as hard, or harder, than I have so I needed to be prepared," Friedrich said.
He was excited to be called back to the final round of only the top 10 projects. "It was awesome to be considered up with the top projects in the state," he continued. "A lot of the students I met there will probably be the future scientists, doctors, and engineers that are the real leaders and innovators of the world. I also met some pretty qualified scientists and doctors that helped give me constructive ideas for future research. I was a little nervous about presenting in the final round with a national trip on the line, but other than that, I was really enjoying it. The experience is really great overall."
Matt Dietz enjoyed attending all of the important dinners associated with the state science fair, because he really liked how it felt he had accomplished something to get there. "It was all very formal and everyone was well-dressed," he added.
Matt also found that presenting his information to the "really qualified judges" was fun, but nerve-racking. He said he was afraid they would catch it if he had just one fact wrong. However, Matt added, their questions provided good feedback, since it was the first time he had written a really large science paper.
"The experience taught me how to be really thorough," he said.
Matt advised other students who still have the opportunity to enter the science fair - regional or state - to try it. "Find something you are interested in," he encouraged. "Almost everything can be a science fair project...I saw everything from math to science to sports to English to electronics to video games and psychology. Science fair is a really fun experience."
Luke thought it was fun to see the other projects at the science fair and talk to the other students that earned this trip.
"The science fair had a lot of projects that were done extremely well, so I would agree getting an award was challenging," Luke added. "(The) judging, on the other hand, was easy, maybe easier because of my experience at the regional science fair."
He concluded that the most exciting part about presenting at the science fair was talking to people in the same field as his project, hearing about other students' experiences and having them ask him about his project.
"It was just fun to hang out with the other science fair students and see what could be a look into the future," Luke said. "It's a lot of work to do a project, but it is definitely worth it."
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