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VISD science, engineering fair boasts 420 projects

LOURDES VAZQUEZ

By LOURDES VAZQUEZ
March 24, 2010 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated March 24, 2010 at 10:25 p.m.

A model of an earthworm stands in front of the project entitled Heads or Tails, which explores whether one end of an earthworm is more sensitive to odor than the other. The entry was one of 60 projects entered in by elementary aged school children.

Leaf cutter ants hurt Jory Stevens' friend's pecan business.

So, the 14-year-old decided to do something about it. Stevens chose to take on the challenge of ridding the family of ants for his science project.

Victoria Independent School District held the judging portion of its annual science fair on Wednesday afternoon at Victoria Community Center. The science fair began Tuesday and ends Thursday.

Stevens was able to rid 16 Texas leaf cutter ant mounds from his friend's property. He used a conquer method and a home remedy to do so.

The conquer method involved inserting rival ants and thus picking a deadly fight with those already in the mounds.

Another experiment involved a home remedy: a mix of hot sauce and pepper extract.

"The ants can strip an entire tree overnight," Stevens said, lamenting the death of unlucky pecan trees.

The science fair included 420 projects - projects such as a cost-efficient way to optimize mixing.

Becky Takacs, a 16-year-old Memorial High School junior, observed mixing water, alcohol and sugar from four angles.

"I wanted to see how the substance and solution would become uniform," she said.

The junior found that combining solutions at various angles did not speed the mixing process.

Ray Howell, a science fair judge, said the creativity of entries keeps him coming back each year.

"I just love this," he said.

Brianna Vasquez, a 15-year-old Memorial High School sophomore, tested the change temperature has on the size of borax crystals.

"It took about two to three weeks," said Vasquez, who likened the crystals to cubic zirconia.

Vasquez plans to use the crystals she created as decorations for her room, she said.

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