MISSOULA – If you’ve ever been curious about a beetle’s favorite color, if social media is making people lonely, or if beauty can be defined on certain facial features, then the 62nd annual Montana Science Fair was the place to be on Monday.

These are not just your typical “volcano’ science projects” for example, two sixth graders from Ophir Middle School spent the last few months discovering whether LED light or natural light grows green beans faster.

“My favorite part was when the LED actually germinated faster than the natural light. It was pretty cool and I wasn’t exposed to that,” Ophir Middle School student Ben Saad.

Saad and his science partner, Max Romney, are just two of the many sixth through twelfth grade students participating in the fair where more than $15,000 in prizes were be awarded to the young scientists, including cash, scholarships and even all-expense paid trips.

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The top winners advance to compete in Los Angeles at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair held in May. Saad and Romney are hopeful, but say no matter what, they have had fun just being able to work on their project together.

“I really enjoyed it because last year I did not have the best experience because I didn’t work with a friend,” Romney said. “This year was much better because we got along, we agreed on what each of us was going to do, which helped our project move along.”

More than 300 judges spent the afternoon rating the projects.  The awards ceremony took place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the Adams Center.

MTN’s  Kent Luetzen