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Photos: Ketchup, taste tests and more at St. John the Baptist Catholic School's science fair

Rocco Casalenda shows off his oil in water experiment on March 8 at the St. John the Baptist Catholic School science fair. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 5
Sam Werner judges a project on cleaning pennies. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 5
Students that are going to either regional or the Big Bang competitions. In the back row (from left to right): Nate McPherson, third grade; Brennen Lohmann, third grade; Lily Simmones, fourth grade; Charlie Meyers, fourth grade; Cooper Wagner, fourth grade. Front row: Kaylee Phlebotomists, fourth grade; Case Bowers, third grade; Chace Reinardy, third grade; Leo Waltman, third grade. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 5
Katey Armstrong poses by her cat food experiment poster. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 5
Bronson Brockman (left) and Emily Juenke pose for a photo in front of their experiment posters on March 8 at the St. John's the Baptist Catholic School science fair. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 5

VERMILLION — St. John the Baptist Catholic School second-grader Katey Armstrong really likes her cats. So when the school's annual science fair drew close, she knew she wanted to find a way to involve them for the March 8 competition.

"I just thought about it and really wanted my cats to be in the project ... because they are funny and I really like them," Armstrong said.

Armstrong ended up testing what kind of cat food they liked the best — soft, hard or a combination — and she hypothesized that they would like the soft food the best. She devised an experiment where she timed how long it took them to eat the different types of food and it turned out she was right, the cats liked the soft food.

Armstrong and over 20 other St. John's students developed and conducted experiments on various topics that ranged from Armstrong's cat food test, investigating ketchup preferences to testing what detergent is the best buy.

Each student created posters and were critiqued by judges — usually alumni. After the awards ceremony at the end of the day, the students with the top projects move onto regional competitions.

Sister Tresa Margret, the former principal at the school, now works at the church. It was her idea to start the fair over 20 years ago and it's been a popular annual activity ever since, she said.

"The students love it and the parents like it," Margret said. "Actually it's a big community thing."

Sisters Sam Werner and Becca Lucking went to the school for their elementary education and helped judge this year's competition.

The two said they remembered the event being a "big deal" when they were students and now were happy to help judge the students.

"It's a good way to give back to our school," Werner said. "It's our turn to be alumni."

The following students made it to a regional competition in Mankato or Archdiocese of St. Paul and the Minneapolis Big Bang STEM Fair.

• Charlie Meyers, fourth grade, "ketchup" project, regional and Big Bang

• Kaylee Pohl, fourth grade, "bath bomb science" project, regional

• Lily Simones, fourth grade, "goodbye stains" project, regional and Big Bang

• Cooper Wagner, fourth grade, "which paw" project, regional

• Case Bowers, third grade, "plant talk" project, regional

• Brennen Lohmann, third grade, "how my soybeans grow" project, regional and Big Bang

• Nate McPherson, third grade, "pet sense" project, regional

• Chace Reinardy, third grade, "light does matter" project, regional

• Leo Waltman, third grade, "egg vs. egg" project, regional