Meredith Benne set her hypothesis and began her sixth-grade science project. She proposed ketchup would clean dirty pennies better than five other solutions.
What she found was a mixture of vinegar and salt proved to do the best job. As judges approached, Benne said she was nervous. She smiled as judges introduced themselves and answered questions about her project.
One hundred thirty-five area middle and high school students worked on projects for the 37th annual Lincoln University Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
The Jason Gymnasium was filled Friday with projects on microbiology, behavioral science, computer technology and more. A third of the contestants were high school juniors and seniors who submitted papers to be judged in LU's Founders Hall.
Cynthia Morin, director of the LU science fair, said judges were looking for projects that showed if the students did enough research, understood their projects and provided clear descriptions on scientific thought.
"They're also looking for what value or purpose the projects have if there is any value," Morin said.
The university will sponsor the top two finalists to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, in May.