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As projects, book reports and tests came due over the last month of the school year, presentation boards became a common sight tucked under the arms of kids around the county.

One of the more pressure-filled venues for these folding cardboard contraptions was the Napa County Science Fair, held May 19 at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville.

Here, fifth- and sixth-graders from throughout the county copied, cut, pasted and presented their findings from homegrown experiments in an effort to understand their world a little better.

And maybe even win their own Kindle Fire tablet computer.

Standing next to their designated presentation space, these wizards of wonder answered questions about their work.

Sydney Griego and Rachel Perez of Northwood Elementary looked into the effects of fluoride on teeth, proving their hypothesis that the more fluoride a product has, the better. In fact, the fluoride varnish dentists put on teeth is the best product out there, they concluded.

David Kawakami and Justin Andino of Canyon Oaks Elementary used honey, liquid soap, water, vegetable oil, pen caps and ice cubes to get a sense of how objects behave in liquids of various densities.

Fernando Cisneros of El Centro Elementary wanted to understand what a closed circuit of electricity does using ordinary household lamps. He discovered that the electricity travels like a river from outlet to wire to bulb and back in a closed circuit, but only works with an incandescent light. Fluorescent lights did not work with the closed circuit.

Morgan Warnock of El Centro Elementary used three bird feeders — one painted black, one painted red and one clear — to find out if birds are attracted to color for her project.

After ultimately resorting to fly paper as a deterrent for the squirrels who continually got into the feed, Warnock discovered that the birds used the clear bird feeder more “so they can see what they are eating.”

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After the judges conferred over their notes, tables were moved and a crowd of participants and their well-wishers gathered in the shade to find out who the big winner was.

“You should all be proud of yourselves,” said Barbara Nemko, Napa County Office of Education superintendent, before announcing the winners. “Even if your experiment did not go the way you planned, you can still learn from it.”

The crowd learned that Gianna Martin of Browns Valley Elementary earned the grand prize with her project, “Are Dogs’ Mouths Cleaner than Humans’?”

Over seven consecutive days, Martin swabbed her own mouth and her dog’s mouth to test for germs. Separately, of course.

Turns out, a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s.

This is the 15th in a monthly photo essay series by Register photographer Jorgen Gulliksen using real film and an old camera.



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