Ella Mendoza, left, and Mikenzy Tausinga won the group category in Banning’s district science fair.

A couple of budding scientists at Central Elementary School in Banning performed tests with substances on corroded iron, and garnered top honors in the group division of the Banning school district’s annual science fair.

Essentially, fourth-graders and professed best friends Ella Mendoza and Mikenzy Tausinga experimented with rusty nails in attempts to reduce the presence of rust after exposing nails to five substances: Coca-Cola, white vinegar, mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide and a lemon.

The results?

“Coke worked the best and lemon worked the least,” reported Mikenzy, who dreams of one day becoming either a nurse or a firefighter.

Ella and Mikenzy bounced back and forth between each other’s houses over a period of a couple of days to check on the progress of their setups during regular daytime hours.

They did not stay up 24 hours straight to make their observations every 15 minutes, they clarified.

The results were not necessarily a surprise.

“Everyone knows that Coca-Cola is one of the top things on the Internet” to use as a corrosive, said Ella, who aspires to be a teacher someday, if she chooses not to make a career out of working for her family’s business, Beaumont-based iPros Phone Repair.

Mikenzy’s grandfather provided them with rusty nails for their project.

As Ella had explained, “We thought Coke would work best, and lemon the least,” Makenzy said. “And that’s what happened. The others took about the same amount of rust off,” which was observed as the nails soaked in clear plastic cups.

The concept was exhibited succinctly enough to be the group winner in the elementary division.

If they were to attempt the same project again, they said they would retain the materials used to wipe the nails after the project was completed, and record observations more frequently than every 15 minutes to try and determine how often changes occurred.

A classmate at Central School, Derick Yang, won first place in the elementary individual division with his project “Which Metal Absorbs the Most Heat?”

Winners from the district division continue on to the Science and Engineering Fair at the Riverside Convention Center on March 2.

Other winners from Banning include (junior division) group winners Antonio Bojorquez and Isaac Banuelos of Nicolet Middle School, “Finding the Speed of Light,” and individual winner Xavier Diaz, “Sugar Rush”; and (senior division) Carlos Juarez of New Horizons High School, who took first place in the individual category with his project “Bounty or Not.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.


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