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Montana's bright young minds come together at the state science fair

Montana state science fair
Posted at 9:55 AM, Apr 04, 2023

MISSOULA - What happens when you take Montana’s young minds and put them together with some scientific exploration?

An explosion of genius at the Montana State Science Fair.

Sixth through twelfth grade students from around Montana came to Missoula to present their science projects on Monday.

On the line for the competitors were cash prizes, trophies, and for four winners, a trip to Dallas for the largest science fair in the world.

Hellgate High School sophomore Faith You has been working with common fruit/vinegar flies in the labs at the University of Montana to learn about the gut-brain connection.

Faith You
Hellgate High School sophomore Faith You

You's interest in the brain was sparked at a young age after she underwent surgery "for Chiari malformation."

Her project focuses on cellular processes in the stomachs of these flies that are quite similar to those in humans.

“There's entero-endocrine (EE) cells that line the gut of the fly," You explained. "There's these octopamine alpha 2R receptors and the octopamine latches onto [the EE cells] and then neuropeptides are then released from that cell and those control an array of behaviors including hunger which is what I specifically looked at.”

Similarly to You, Saco eighth grade student Jake Brown is also interested in the human body.

Brown's project stems from his participation in sports.

Jake Brown
Saco eighth grade student Jake Brown

He tested “electrolytes in sports drinks. Seeing which one replenished the heart rate and blood pressure the most.”

To do so, Brown would first take his resting heart rate and blood pressure, run on the treadmill for five minutes, take the measurements again, drink a sports drink, wait, and check for the final results.

On the physics side of the science fair, Sun River seventh grade student Ella Fryberger engineered a system for alerting owners of electric fence malfunctions.

“This LED is green and it’s saying that your electric fence is good. And then when I gradually slow down the pulse, I can make this LED turn yellow and that means your electric fence is bad. And at this point, it sends the email," Fryberger tells MTN.

Ella Fryberger
Sun River seventh grade student Ella Fryberger

Living near a ranch, Fryberger recognized that “they would have sometimes issues because their horses would just be wandering around cuz their electric fence broke.”

Fryberger has high hopes for her invention, "I would potentially like to patent it and if I had the opportunity I probably would engineer it further and be able to sell it."

The science projects showcased the minds that are the future of our society.

Regeneron ISEF 2023, the world’s largest pre-college STEM competition, will take place from May 14-19 in Dallas, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.