One son's now in college, but the Ylitalo family remains a formidable presence in regional and state science fair competition — and that's good news for Stillwater Area High School.
This month, Max Ylitalo, 15, a sophomore, won the right to represent Minnesota at the I-SWEEEP (International Sustainable World Energy Engineering and Environment Project) Olympiad in Houston in May.
His project, "Garbage Reduction to Energy Production: Converting Waste Paper to Ethanol," captured the environmental excellence award at the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair, the event that qualified him for the Houston trip.
Ylitalo and five other Stillwater Area High students — Nate Farmer, Ben Farmer, Hannah Farmer, Max Vogel and Pedro Angulo-Umana — also advanced to the state science and engineering fair to be held March 30 to April 1, a school district news release said.
Last year, Ylitalo's older brother, Andy Ylitalo, competed in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. His project was titled, "Functionalization of Hexagonal Boron Nitride Monolayers and Analysis with Transmission Electron Microscopy."
Andy Ylitalo, a 2013 Stillwater graduate, now attends Stanford University.
Last year, Caroline Ylitalo, the boys' mother, told the Star Tribune that working on science projects during cold-weather months is a family tradition.
Max Ylitalo, contacted by the newspaper when school was canceled in January due to cold weather, said at the time that he didn't mind the time off because it would allow him to hone the presentation aspect of this year's project, which he said involves making biofuel out of recycled paper.
In May, Max Ylitalo also will represent the state as a student observer at this year's Intel fair in Los Angeles.
High school exchange program recognized
Stillwater Area High School last month received the 2014 Top AFS School award in recognition of its student exchange program.
Officials at the high school, with an enrollment just shy of 2,100, were presented with the honor at the Feb. 27 school board meeting. The award is given out each year by the AFS-USA, a leading foreign exchange organization.
Criteria include partnering with AFS "to promote global citizenship through intercultural learning — both inside and outside of the classroom."
According to a news release posted on the Stillwater School District's website, the school was recognized for hosting 30 AFS students from 20 countries over the years, sending its own students abroad and incorporating "intercultural learning in the curriculum," all in the name of "fostering global competency" in its student body.
"We're so thankful and proud to work in educational partnership with schools like Stillwater Area High School," Tonya Muro, director of school outreach and educational partnerships at AFS, said in the release. "These educators are at the forefront of bringing global awareness and intercultural experiences to their students. In doing so, they are providing students, teachers and the greater community profound opportunities to broaden their knowledge of other cultures and peoples, which is indispensable in this day and age."
Anthony Lonetree, LIBOR JANY