Way to go: Aidan Dwyer, Northport

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Aidan Dwyer, of Northport, has cemented his status as a young scientist.

The Northport High School freshman was one of 10 national finalists last month in Discovery Education 3M's Young Scientist Challenge 2012, a competition in which students were asked to submit a two-minute video describing a creative solution to an everyday problem.

Aidan's video described a 7-foot-tall "solar tree" that he created last spring, using PVC pipes with small solar panels in place of leaves. The branch and leaf arrangement followed the Fibonacci Sequence, a mathematical pattern that often is found in nature.

"Oil is running out, and we need new alternative sources of energy," said Aidan, 14, noting that his solar tree collected 50 percent more sunlight than flat panels. Of being a finalist, he said: "I was really excited and surprised. It means a lot."

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As a finalist, Aidan received $1,000, a medal and a trip to the finals in Minnesota, where he vied last month for the $25,000 grand prize. There, he gave a five-minute presentation about his project to a panel of judges and engaged in two on-the-spot science challenges.

Aidan, a Boy Scout, is part of his school's National Junior Honor Society and Art Club.

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