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Elroy Schroeder Middle School holds science and engineering fair

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Seventh-graders (L-R) Claire Huebner, Sean Gerszewski and Josh Swanson wait for their science fair projects to be judged at the annual science and engineering fair at Schroeder Middle School in Grand Forks Thursday. UND staff and students judged the contest with winning projects advancing to the NE Regional Science and Engineering Fair. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
Skyler Syverson, right, talks about his project, "Spuds on the Fly," with Peter Henson, a UND Aerospace student, and judge in the annual science and engineering fair at Schroeder Middle School. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

Chocolate chip cookies, potato launchers and computer programs: They don’t have much in common, except for all being among the projects presented Thursday by students at Elroy Schroeder Middle School’s science and engineering fair.

“Every year there’s great projects,” said seventh-grade science teacher Bjorn Halvorson. “I can’t really pick one out, because they’re all so good. They worked so hard on them.”

About 160 seventh- and eighth-grade students competed at Thursday’s fair, which was judged by UND science and engineering students and faculty. Their project ideas ranged from testing how different types of fat affected the taste and texture of chocolate-chip cookies to building a computer program about the periodic table.

Potato launchers were a popular project, with a handful of students presenting their versions. Seventh-grader Sean Gerszewski said he likes building things and had fun launching different sizes of potatoes out of his catapult to see how far they would fly.

“You could launch other things out of it too, maybe little balls or popcorn or something if you want to have fights,” he said.

Seventh-grader Claire Huebner, who grew her own bacteria to test the effects of different antibiotics, said her favorite part of the process was seeing her whole project come together. Talking about her project a lot before meeting the judges helped her feel less nervous, she said.

“The more you do it, the easier it goes,” she said. “I just kind of power through the nerves in the beginning.”

Halvorson said the students have fun working on their projects to the point that they may not realize how much they’re learning.

“If you talk to any kid they’re going to tell you they’re nervous about it,” he said. “But I guarantee they’re having fun today.”

The top projects chosen by the judges will get to present at the Northeast Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which will take place March 14 at UND.