Math and science festival kicking off

FRESNO, Calif.

On Monday nearly 700 middle and high school students from 35 different schools set up their displays for a chance to win up to $500 in one of the Valley's toughest competitions.

"This is a girl from Sanger High and she went on to the International Science Fair and won 4th place there," fair director Jennifer Weibert said.

Weibert's project is how to get rid of mosquitos not using pesticides but natural poisons that come out of our trees in the Valley.

Weibert says the competition is fierce.

Students can can enter one of 13 categories ranging from earth and plant sciences to biology, chemistry and even physics.

We see a lot on bacteria growth. Kids are always interested in growing their own bacteria," Weibert said.

One Fairmont Elementary School student, however, has other plans.

"My experiment is on the effects of thermotherapy on strawberries," Zachary Muth said.

That's the science behind preventing mold from growing on the fruit.

"This is actually my first time signing up for regionals and it's a lot of fun seeing all of the experiments and how well people have done," Muth said.

His findings? Dropping the berries in 140 degree water for 45 seconds will cause them to remain fresh for up to two weeks.

Another student tested alkaseltzer in various liquids to see which one the body would absorb the fastest.

"Actually I was very surprised with the orange juice and in this picture you can see it's in a square glass and we actually had to change the container it was in because the orange juice bubbled up so high," Jayme Ludwig of Sutter Middle School said.

Out of the four liquids she tested, Dr. Pepper worked the best.

"I think because the Dr. Pepper is already carbonated it just increased the carbon dioxide," Ludwig said.

Due to a nationwide shortage of college graduates entering science and math careers, festival organizers say their mission is to inspire Valley youth to get involved in these fields.

They're already seeing some growth, with more students participants this year than ever before.

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