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Science students compete at state

There was much scientific banter about last week as 15 Cloquet middle school students, three high school students and their research mentors William Bauer and Dr. Cynthia Welsh attended the Minnesota State Science & Engineering Fair.

It was the 87th state science fair on March 22 at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Each year, hundreds of middle and high school students from across Minnesota present original research to STEM professionals and compete for prestigious awards.

Cloquet students won the following awards.

• Grace Lavan, a senior, was awarded a bronze Grand Award medal, which is given to the top 15 percent of the projects at the fair for her project, "Meet the New Neighbor: Can Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) Establish Territories in Areas of Higher Human and Road Density Than Expected." Lavan also was awarded the Kailey Soller Woman in Science Impact Award, presented to a student who is expected to make an impact in the scientific world as demonstrated by their creative project idea, strong presentation skills, or unique way that they demonstrated the potential for their project to transfer into a product.

• Johanna Bernu, a junior, was also awarded a bronze Grand Award for her project, "Disinfectant Properties of Nuphar advena: An Ethno-pharmaceutical Approach." Bernu also won three special awards, the Community Innovation award, which recognizes a high school student whose project will better humanity and improve conditions in the local community; the Minnesota Environmental Health Association award, for excellence in environmental health science; and the Regeneron Biomedical Science award, which recognizes an exceptional high school student scientist who demonstrates an impressive command of biomedical science.

• Raelyn Wuollet and Melanie Buhs, both eighth-graders, were awarded the American Fisheries Society Aquatic Sciences Achievement Award, which recognizes projects focusing on aquatic science; winners receive a book and a fishing pole.

• Jeremiah Bents and Finley Holz, eighth grade, won the bronze Grand Award medal for their project, "Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Movement Before, During, and After Deer Season on and Around the Fond Du Lac Reservation."

• Also attending the fair from Cloquet was junior Ethan Lavan, and middle school students Anna- Sofia Bocanegra, Kalli Buskala, Isabelle Christensen-Macor, Peyton DeMenge, Simon Langer, Carly Ross, Gianna Stahl, Aili Wilkinson, Annastyn Hagen, Patrick Hill, and Bristol VanGuilder.

Lavan, Bents, Holz, Bradley and Mathews received professional support from Mike Schrage, a wildlife biologist with the Fond du Lac Resource Management Division.

Bernu was mentored and given lab space by Dr. Jessica Sieber, a University of Minnesota Duluth microbiologist.

Cloquet students' participation was supported by Cloquet Public Schools and the Cloquet Educational Foundation.