Student and teacher win big at state science fair

An Anoka-Hennepin student and teacher were honored at the State Science & Engineering Fair in Bloomington April 1.

Matthew Lerdahl, a Coon Rapids High School senior, won the Minnesota Academy of Science Winchell Award, earning a bid to present his research at the Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium at St. Mary’s University in Winona April 26.

Lerdahl also took fifth place for an oral presentation at the North Central Regional Junior Science & Humanities Symposium. He has the opportunity to travel to the national symposium in Washington D.C. April 23-27.

At the regional fair, Lerdahl won a trip to the International Science Fair, as did Sophia Brown, a sophomore at Anoka High School.

The two will travel to Los Angeles May 11 to present their research.

Lerdahl’s project, entitled “Biofeedback Controller: Virtual Training for Myoelectric Transradial Prosthesis,” focuses on how the body’s nerves can respond to artificial limbs.

Brown did extensive research on emerging and traditional hysterectomy methods.

Seven other students from the district joined 500 sixth through 12th graders from across the state at the State Science & Engineering Fair. With Lerdahl and Brown, Kailan Brown, Anne Bundy, Owen Kavie, Blaine Koolmo, Claire Lee, Mark Scheller and Sam Skoglund advanced from the regional competition in St. Cloud this February to state.

District STEM Fair Coordinator Kevin Molohon, a science teacher at Champlin Park High School, was recognized, too. Molohon was one of two to take home the Seagate Technology Excellence in Science Mentoring Award this year.

Bundy and former student Connor Klemenhagen, now a freshmen at the University of Minnesota, nominated Molohon. Klemenhagen has nominated him for many years.

“It means a lot,” Molohon said of the Seagate award.

It comes with a $2,000 cash prize – $1,000 for Molohon to enjoy and $1,000 for the CPHS science department.

Molohon already has his cash spent. “That’s already gone because I have two sons in college,” he laughed, but he looks forward to working with the science department to decide what it might want to purchase.

Molohon’s been coordinating Anoka-Hennepin’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fair since 1997.

Participation allows students to get a taste of “authentic science,” he said. “There’s nothing [else] like this for them in the district.”

Olivia Koester is at
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