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Showcase for math, science skills at MAES

Abbey Dickhudt, a judge for the Morris Area Elementary science and math expo, listens as fifth-grader Thea Kolden explains her project on March 29. Dickhudt is a student at the University of Minnesota Morris. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times. 1 / 3
MAES science and math expo judge Sam Greene Judge with student Truett Richards. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times 2 / 3
MAES science and math expo judge Harrison Piehowski with students Tyson Grove and Gavin Schmidt. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times 3 / 3

It was important for Kaden Hinrichs to pick a science and math expo project that challenged him.

Hinrichs, a fifth-grader at Morris Area Elementary School, competed in the March 29 science and math expo in the high school concert hall.

"I don't do much stuff with weights," Hinrichs said. So he chose a project that used smaller weights to learn how they affected an moving object's speed and distance.

The project went well and led to his advice for future math and science expo participants. "Try to pull out of your comfort zone," Hinrichs said of choosing a project.

That's important, students said, but so is interest in the topic.

"Don't do something you are not interested in," Britta Schmidgall said.

Judge Harrison Piechowski noticed the students interested in their projects.

"It's really cool to see the kids have so much passion and applying (it)," said Piechowski, a student at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Hinrichs and Schmidgall and and several others in Joe Boedigheimer's class said judging went well at the expo.

"At the start, I was (nervous)," Jase Minners said. But as the judging progressed, "I knew what I was talking about. I knew my project," Minners said.

With an expo project it's important to "make sure you know your project. Make sure you can actually do it," Schmidgall said.

"It would be very bad if don't know what you were talking about," Tobin Shank said.

"...for the most part they've done a real good job," judge Samuel Greene said. Greene is a former teacher and father of fifth-grade teacher Caleb Greene.

Overall, "The judges (were) nice," Sebastian Salas said. "They didn't ask lots of questions."

"They asked a good amount of questions," Sadie Koehler said.

"They didn't ask stressful questions," Nathaniel Hanson said.

"They (didn't) stare at you with beady eyes," Schmidgall said.

Piechowski, Greene and judge Kasey Wiechmann were pleased to learn that students in Boedigheimer's class felt the judges were nice and fair.

"There were quite a few interesting ideas this year," said Wiechmann, who works for Stevens County Soil and Water Conservation. "Most students knew exactly what they were talking about."

Piechowski said he wanted to learn how the projects had narrow focuses and Piechowski asked students to explain the more general application of their projects. The students could answer those questions, he said.

"This isn't just a science fair," Greene said. "This is life skills." Some day these students will need to talk about themselves to a potential employer and the skills used in a science and math expo help students learn how to present themselves to others, Greene said.

"The way they present themselves in a science fair is close to how they can present themselves in real life," Greene said.