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The competitive spark at the Southern Arizona Science Fair

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The competitive spark at the Southern Arizona Science Fair

CREATED Mar. 11, 2013

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Extensive studies show U.S. students near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to math and science. But there are some incredible exceptions. And they're right here at the Tucson Convention Center this week.

Sparks are flying at the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The best and brightest on display. Everything from wireless energy transmission to animal heartbeats. More than 1,800 science projects sit inside the TCC. The scientists as young as kindergartners, as old as high schoolers. They all love science.

"It's so much fun doing these experiments," said 6th grader Walter Kroubalkian. "It's just amazing what I find."

"It means a lot to be able to compete with people like this," said senior Cory Owan.

But the reality is, here in the United States, these young scientific minds are the exception, not the rule. The U.S. lags way behind other developed countries when it comes to science and engineering. And that's the point of these fairs, to turn the tide, to get people who know very little about science engaged and interested.

"It gets their feet wet," said Andrea Owan, with the SciEnTek-12 Foundation. "It teaches them how to be creative, to look at the world, to ask questions."

Students say all you have to do is look around to see, the talent is right in our own backyard.

"This just shows young innovators in this country are doing great things," said Kroubalkian.

And just maybe, one of these thousands of science projects will spark a new interest in someone who never gave science a second thought.

Judging day is Tuesday afternoon. But the exhibits will be open to the public on Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more info, click here.