Science shindig: Bemidji Middle School holds annual Science Fair

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BEMIDJI—Students at Bemidji Middle School showed off their science skills Thursday night at the school's 32nd annual science fair.

Keegan Kolodji, a seventh-grader, tested three cats' interest in different toys. A laser pointer stood out from the pack, there.

Classmate Marissa Gettemans soaked eggs in different fluids and measured how much they dissolved and discolored. She predicted Mountain Dew would do the most damage to the eggs, which were stand-ins for human teeth, but the data she collected didn't bear out her hypothesis—vinegar dissolved and discolored the eggs the quickest.

Sixth-grader Riley Finnegan tested differently treated slimes, and found that adding Tide laundry detergent made her slime the most viscous.

In all, about 300 sixth-graders and 200 seventh- and eighth-graders put together projects for the fair. A total of 60 community judges primarily scored the students' projects on their scientific rigor, but also looked at presentation and artistry.

"It gives them exposure to real-world science," said Debra Sandvig, the fair's coordinator and a seventh-grade science teacher in the middle school's Kappa Pod. "And then they get to show that off to the community."

Students also used their physics and engineering skills to build towers out of old copies of the Pioneer and tested their mettle in a knowledge bowl-style competition.

Below are the science fair winners by category.

• Animal Science (Zoology): First place: Jack Solum, "Do Birds Prefer a Certain Color Bird Food?"; Second place: Bo Hofstad, "Something Fishy."

• Behavioral/Social Science: First place: Sydney Breyen, "Scavenger Hunt"; Second place: Abigail Fettig, "Music Impact on Memory."

• Chemistry: First place: Jocelyn McBride, "The Science of Orbeez"; Second place: Colleen Szurpicki, "How Safe is Your Water."

• Computer Science and Mathematics: First place: Walker Erickson, "Are All Dice Fair."

• Earth and Space Science: First place: Mathew Matheny, "Rocket Exploration"; Second place: Dane Jorgensen, "Telescopes."

• Engineering: First place: Alexander Hartman, "Ice - Can You Make it Stronger"; Second place: Coy Olson, "Hunting with a Broadhead."

• Environmental Science: First place: Seth Lindgren and Noah Johnson, "Salty Freshwater"; Second place: Noelle Mueller, "Pollution Profusion."

• Medicine and Health: First place: Mya Huseby, "Carb vs. Carb"; Second place: Regan Dewitt, "Physical Activity vs. Inactivity Relation to Memorization of Lists."

• Microbiology: First place: Joshua O'Leary, "The War on Bacteria"; Second place: Elise Lockner, "Thirsty Mold."

• Physics: First place: Jon Quandt, "How Does Color Affect Energy Absorbed"; Second place: Sophie Gessner, 'Refraction in Action."

• Plant Science (Botany): First place: Jacob Foss, "Firewood Frenzy"; Second place: Johnny Pfaff, "#45 Lettuce Growth Under Different Colored Light."

• Consumer Products: First place: Casey and Zane Hiller, "Bang Worth The Buck"; Second place: Megan Roth, "Fresh Fruit."

• Artistic Award: First place: Evan Martens, "Fish On!"; Second place: Ava Lietz, "Do You Frown When the Apples Turn Brown?"; Third place: Jocelyn Kurtzweg, "Memory Matters!"

Judges also selected Noah Johnson and Seth Lindgren's "Salty Freshwater" for the Bob Schultz award, which recognizes overall excellence and is named after a late longtime science teacher at the middle school.