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At Science and Engineering Fair, Plankinton student earns third Senior Grand Award

Xavier Marshall, 15 of Platte, sits down to ride a hovercraft on the sidewalk with the help from Clayton Menning, 14, left, and Josh Moser, 15, both of Corsica, Tuesday at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. Menning and Moser built the hovercraft with help from Dayson Bordewyk, 15, of Corsica, for the 22nd South Central South Dakota Science and Engineering Fair at DWU. The craft is powered by five leaf blowers. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)1 / 2
Justin Krell, of Plankinton, talks to a judge about his science project at the 22nd South Central South Dakota science and engineering fair at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell Tuesday. Krell developed ear tags for cows that would record the temperature, heart beat and GPS location. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)2 / 2

Standing in front of his cardboard display, Justin Krell, in a suit and tie, explained his science fair project with confidence.

Krell, a junior at Plankinton High School, was one of three students who won a Senior Grand Award at the South Central South Dakota Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held Tuesday at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. The competition among students in grades six through 12 included entries from 30 schools in 18 counties in South Dakota.

Krell and the other Senior Grand Award winners -- Lily Hoffman, a student at Mitchell High School, and Julie Boyle, a student at Avon High School -- earned trips to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, to be held in May in Los Angeles.

Krell has already competed twice in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and was a finalist both times.

This year, Krell designed a special ear tag meant to allow farmers and ranchers to remotely monitor the location, heart rate and body temperature of their livestock. His name for the device? "Cow Chips." The device, Krell said, could be used to monitor the health of livestock and prevent theft.

"My passion is agriculture," Krell said. "I want to come back into agriculture. It's something that's close to my heart."

Krell has been working on the project since November. Combining all the different functions into one device proved to be a challenge, he said,

"Everything works by itself," Krell said. "When you start combining things, it gets a little hectic."

Mike Farney, a physics professor at DWU, was thrilled with the quality of work he saw displayed at Tuesday's event.

"We have students here who have learned something on their own," Farney said. "That's how you bring new knowledge into the world."

Kylee Guindon and Noah Heezen, students at Plankinton Middle School, and Emma Heezen, a student at Plankinton High School, were awarded the chance to accompany the Senior Grand Award winners to the international competition in May.

Andrew Weller, a student at Mitchell Middle School, and Kendall Veenstra, a student at Dakota Christian Middle School in Corsica, each won a Junior Grand Award.

Natalie Bordeaux, Molly Knife and Shelby Little Shield, all students at Spring Creek Middle School, won a group award for a project examining the water quality on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

The names of other award winners will be published in a future edition.