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BSU Hosts the Northern Minnesota Regional Science Fair

This is the 59th year that Bemidji has hosted the Northern Minnesota Regional Science Fair. Photo by: Kailer Overman

Jordan Shearer | Staff Writer | 3-3-2012

This past weekend, Bemidji State University became the gathering place for over one hundred middle and high school students who participated in the Northern Minnesota Regional Science Fair, where presenters were judged on both papers and projects, ultimately competing for a number of different awards, including three trips to the International Science and Engineering Fair Competition (ISEF).  Two of these trips are for students to attend as observers, and one is given to a student to compete in the event.

This is the 59th year that Bemidji has hosted the regional fair.  Dr. Patrick Guilfoile, assistant vice president of academic affairs, was quoted in BSU Today as saying “The fair provides students an opportunity to be recognized for doing science, rather than just reading or hearing about science.”

Recognition was only part of the reward for some of the more ambitious students, who received a number of different prizes.  Among these were t-shirts, gift cards and cash prizes up to $250.

The breadth of the recognition has a large range, coming from sources such as the BSU Biology, Chemistry and Nursing departments as well as from the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Before the awards were distributed, the students, teachers, and parents listened to a speech by Dave Rave, a waterfowl biologist working for the Minnesota DNR.  Rave began by explaining that the job of a scientist is, in a broad sense, to simply ask questions and then to search for the answers to those questions.  He then told the story of how he became interested in biology and science through the study of different birds.

It is an area he has continued to work in, since part of his job with the DNR is to monitor and keep track of Canadian geese. During his presentation, he showed a slide show of several different bird species, and gave examples of what they sound like by using various bird whistles. He also demonstrated how geese can be tracked using an antenna and transmitter.  On a closing note, Rave encouraged the students to “follow your dreams and move forward.”

According to Guilfoile, students did not need to participate in any other fairs to qualify for this one.  However, they did need to do well at this level in order to continue on. Therefore, although this fair was an accomplishment in itself for many of the participating students, it was just a mile marker in a larger journey for many others. Those who received purple ribbons were allowed to continue on to the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair.

The projects themselves covered content from a number of different scientific fields, including zoology, engineering, botany, physics, medicine and health, microbiology, and several others.  The students were judged by knowledgeable individuals within each respective field, and, according to Guilfoile, the criteria for the judging were “based on the quality of their research and their presentation to the judges.”

The winner of the fair was Alisha Mosloff, a student from Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls.  She earned a purple ribbon in addition to eight different special awards, including a US Army bronze medallion and the trip to compete at the ISEF.

Her project was entitled How Air Temperature Affects Soil Frost Depth. During the course of the project, Mosloff worked with the International Water Institute to collect data on frost over a number of weeks in two different locations, one of which contained snow and one that was kept clear of snow.

Mosloff will be taking this project to the ISEF, although she mentioned that it will hopefully contain more data by that point.