Appealing to science rather than sentiment, Sarah Griffin, a fourth-grader at Jerry Whitehead Elementary School, did some research and found that billions of dollars are spent every year in the United States on flowers. Combining her need for a science project idea and her love of receiving flowers, Griffin conducted an experiment to find out how to make flowers live as long as possible so as to get the most bang for your bouquet-buying buck.
The secret formula: put the flowers in water with a little 7-Up, a copper penny or — surprise — that little packet of powder that comes with the flowers.
“It actually does something,” the young scientist said.
Those additives kept flowers alive an average of 16 days. Aspirin and diet soda were the losers in the experiment, keeping flowers alive only a little longer than eight days.
Griffin’s experiment, which she calls simply “How to Preserve Flowers,” is one of around 1,100 on display this weekend at the 43rd annual Western Nevada Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Lawlor Events Center. The event will feature the work of young scientists, engineers and inventors and will include the Lemelson Young Inventors Challenge, with about 200 inventions submitted. More than 130 different public, private, charter and parochial elementary, middle and high schools are participating, representing students from Ely to Zephyr Cove, and Gerlach to Minden.
Elementary students compete in individual, class and team categories. Middle and high school students compete in five science and engineering categories: life science, physical science, engineering, earth and environmental science and mathematics and computers.
The top two individual and team projects in the high school division will go on to compete in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair being held in San Jose, Calif. May 9 through 14. The Intel fair, of which the Western Nevada fair is affiliated, brings together more than 1,500 students from all over the United States and more than 60 nations to compete and win more than $4 million in scholarships, establish new collaborations for the future, experience cultural exchanges and gain recognition from peers.
The public can view the projects today from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Tonight at 6:30 p.m. will be the awards ceremony for the Young Inventors Challenge on the main concourse at Lawlor. The science fair awards are Saturday at 10 a.m.
For more information, visit www.nevadasciencefair.net.