News Releases

Best and brightest young scientific minds heading to Mines for March 21 fair
Release Date Wednesday, March 5, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (March 5, 2014) – Erupting volcanoes? That’s practically elementary compared to today’s science fair entries. The public will get to see mini recreations of thermal wonders and more at the 59th annual High Plains Science Fair hosted by the School of Mines on Friday, March 21.

This year’s projects presented by more than 250 middle and high school students from throughout western South Dakota and the Newcastle, Wyo., area tackle topics such as how to make aircraft invisible to radar and the microevolution of Bacillus subtilis in response to isopropanol stress.

Attracting the best and brightest young scientific minds, entries span all engineering disciplines, as well as the biological, physical and social sciences, according to Shawna Delaney, Youth Programs director.

Last year’s fair attracted the likes of Conrad Farnsworth of Newcastle, Wyo., who went on to receive international attention for the nuclear fusion reactor he built in his parents’ garage. Farnsworth, who won last year’s fair, is believed to be among just a handful of high school students in the world to have achieved nuclear fusion. Now an electrical engineering major at the School of Mines, and with his reactor safely housed in a campus laboratory, Farnsworth is expanding his research horizons.

Farnsworth will speak about his experience with the Mines science fair and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) at the afternoon award ceremony.

“The encouragement and support provided to all students by their parents and science teachers is crucial in developing the desire and skills to prepare a project for the fair. Behind the scenes, many of the SDSM&T faculty and staff are working hard to ensure that each year the science fair is a success and that all student participants have a unique experience that will inspire them to choose a profession in science or engineering for their future,” said Donna Kliche, Ph.D., Mines Institute of Atmospheric Sciences faculty member and co-chair of the science fair committee.

The stakes are high, with the overall winner in the senior division (high school) and his or her teacher receiving an all-expense paid trip to present their project at the international fair in Los Angeles in May. Additionally, an 8th-10th grade student and their teacher will be selected to travel to the ISEF and participate as a student observer.

Travel to the international fair for the senior winning team will be sponsored by the School of Mines, while travel for the student observer team will be sponsored by South Dakota EPSCoR. Both the senior winner and student observer will present their projects at the state EPSCoR conference in May.

Volunteer judges are being sought for the March 21 fair to be held on campus. Anyone interested in judging or volunteering to assist with set-up, student check-in and other needs may do so at No prior judging experience is required, guides are provided to assist with judging.

The fair will be from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Surbeck Center ballroom and King Center. The public is invited to view entries from 1:30-2:30 p.m. and attend the 2:30 p.m. award ceremony in the King Center.

In addition to the prizes offered for each category, students are also able to win special awards which are provided by many professional organizations.



About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,640 students from 45 states and 37 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for graduates is $62,400 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at