Science fair students dazzle at state


April 15, 2022


McKenna Gandhi won the 3M Consumer innovation award.

A total of 19 Cloquet students, along with research mentors Dr. Cynthia Welsh and William Bauer, attended the Minnesota State Science & Engineering Fair earlier this month. The event was held online and, once again, Cloquet students were awarded plenty of hardware.

Four Cloquet students won the top awards at the fair, what the host, Minnesota Academy of Science, calls the Grand Awards that recognize excellence in scientific research.

Silver Grand medals went to the top 10 percent of the projects at the fair. Winning silver medals at the fair were seventh-grader Aiden Korby and his project titled, "Busy Beaver: What effect does a homemade beaver poplar tree repellent have if there is beaver evidence on the side of the trees" and ninth-grader Johanna Bernu and her project titled, "Disinfectant Properties of Nuphar Advena: An Ethnopharmaceutical Approach."

The top 20 percent of the projects at the fair receive bronze medals. Cloquet winners included junior Rowan Rock for her project titled, "Wastewater Treatment: The Use of Mealworm Gut Bacteria to Isolate and Identify Bacteria that can Biodegrade Polystyrene," and eighth-grader Ethan Lavan for his project titled, "Effects of the Pandemic/Food Supply Chain, City Populations, and time on Minnesota Urban Chicken Keeping."

The following middle school students won special awards:

Aiden Korby was also awarded some of the top prizes at the state science fair, including the Seagate Emerging Scientist award and the Broadcom MASTERS award for his beaver repellent project.

Jordan Linder was presented with the Googol Bike Project STEM the Stigmas Award. This award recognizes outstanding work that explores social stigmas. Winners receive $500.

Ethan Lavan was awarded the Land O'Lakes award for food innovation with a $500 cash prize.

McKenna Gandhi won the 3M Consumer innovation award with a $120 gift certificate.

Parker Sickmann won $700 and the Ecolab food safety award.

The following high school students won special awards:

Rowan Rock was awarded the Mortenson Environmental Excellence award, and the Land O'Lakes award for food innovation with a $500 cash prize.

Johanna Bernu was given the 3M Consumer innovation award. This award recognizes students who demonstrate unique resourcefulness in their approach to innovation, finding ways to do more with less, discovering new solutions to difficult problems. Each winner receives a $120 gift card and plaque.

Harmony Tracy was presented with the Good Chemistry Prize for Creativity for her project on what habitat types wild turkeys associate with in northeast Minnesota.

Grace Lavan was given the Association for Women Geoscientists award for her project looking at the effects of the Line 3 pipeline on gray wolves on the Fond du Lac Reservation, which were minimal.

Emily Sapyta was awarded with the American Fisheries Society, Minnesota Chapter, Aquatic Sciences Excellence award for her work on using different concentrations of tannic acid and bacteria to break down motor oil in aquatic systems.


Cloquet sophomore Grace Lavan, in the field collaring and measuring wolf pups, with Marcy Ferriere, a Cloquet science fair alumnus. She had this field experience with Mike Schrage of the Fond du Lac Resource Management Division.

Some of the big-award-winning students were mentored by a long list of community professionals, including UMD professors and doctoral students, biologists from Fond du Lac Resource Management and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Sappi Forestry and other experts in ArcGIS and even the Duluth NOAA station.

A number of high school students also presented papers at the Junior Science & Humanities Symposium in March. JSHS is a research paper competition for high school students in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota that promotes original research and experimentation at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement.

Five Cloquet High School students - Harmony Tracy, Rowan Rock, Emily Sapyta, Grace Lavan and Johanna Bernu - presented their research papers at JSHS.

Rowan Rock was one of six students to receive the Outstanding Achievement award. Harmony Tracy was presented with the Presidential Award for her paper and presentation. The Minnesota Academy of Science recognizes one student in each category for excellent research with a certificate and letter of congratulations.


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