Megan Hanke is looking to heaven for help with her science fair project - but she's keeping one eye closed.
"If you hold up your finger to the star and close one eye, then hold another finger to the next star and close the other eye, you can measure the distance between the stars," she explained. "Most stars are really far - a lot farther than you would expect them to be - like four light years."
Hanke's findings will be displayed along with about 80 other projects during Carson High School's annual science fair Wednesday.
"I've always been fascinated by stars," she said. "It's really neat to me how they were able to put them together to make animals and other pictures in the constellations."
While Hanke, 15, designed a project that would answer her own curiosity about the universe, others will use the fair to educate others.
"There's some people who don't even know that there's endangered species where they live," said Yesenia Fuentes, 15. She and her partner, Vanessa Macias, 15, are researching the skipper butterfly for their project.
"We found out that it's the most endangered species in our area," Fuentes said.
Students will compete in one of five categories: engineering, environmental sciences, life sciences, physical sciences and mathematics and computer sciences.
First-, second-and third-place awards will be given in each category, and those winners plus alternates will advance to the Regional Science Fair on March 11-13 at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Winners at the regional event will go on to the International Competition in Portland, Ore. Last year, as a Carson High sophomore, Carly Nystrom won first place at the Western Nevada Regional Science Fair then competed internationally.
"This is an ideal way to help students meet their academic standards requirements and get recognition while doing something quite enjoyable," said science teacher Julie Koop.
It's also a lesson in perseverance.
Sophomores Jacob Jeffers, Jimmy Potter and Derick Holland attempted to run an engine using water.
"We would do it by separating water into oxygen and hydrogen then burning the hydrogen instead of gasoline," explained Jeffers. "It's a lot cleaner and a lot cheaper to get."
However financial constraints prevented them from continuing.
"It's frustrating but I think it might still be possible if we worked on it a little bit," Jeffers said. "I'd like to keep working on it to see if I could get it to work eventually."
And the community is helping to support the fair.
Bob Browne, of Allied Uniform Sales, volunteered to donate the 200 shirts for all participants. Nevada Assemblyman Ron Knecht contributed $250 from his campaign funds and the Kiwanis Club matched that amount, as well as logistical support. Ken Beaton from the Children's Museum also donated $100.
Bentley Nevada provides several judges along with community members.
The elementary schools will hold their fairs in February and March.
You Can Help
To volunteer as a judge for the science fair contact Julie Koop at jkoop@Carson.k12.nv.us or 283-1719.
Contact Teri Vance at email@example.com or at 881-1272.