Regional science fair at Tucson Convention Center

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Some of Southern Arizona's brightest young minds are setting up shop this week at the Tucson Convention Center.

Starting Tuesday, hundreds of students will square off in 56th Annual Regional Science and Engineering Fair with thousands of dollars in scholarship money on the line.

Monday was set-up day at the TCC and Lily Clark wanted to make sure everything was just right.

The Lineweaver Elementary fifth grader expects to stun the judges with a project on aerodynamics.

"The air when it comes out of the leaf blower it's kind of going all over the place so i made this straw wind director thingy so that the air can go through and make a straighter flow," said Lily.

Lily is using wood pieces to obstruct the air flow of the tube.  Her goal is to someday make a more fuel-efficient car.

"The shape that they're in, that can cause them to go faster and use less gas which can help the environment," said Clark.

Students at the TCC definitely have their eyes on the future. There's a display on getting the most output from solar panels and even one on how Facebook affects a person's productivity.

"My project is phytoremediation in cacti which is using cacti to break down toxic substances," said Sonoran Science Academy student Arrick Benson.

Benson, an 8th grader at Sonoran Science Academy, wants to see if some plants can be used to clean up harmful chemicals in soil.

"I used a prickly pear cactus.  I planted them in soil contaminated with VW motor oil," said Benson.

Both Lily and Arrick have won honors in past science fairs. They hope their forward-thinking research will win them even more accolades.

The top six high school projects win a week-long, paid trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair in L.A. To compete against students from over fifty countries.

Younger participants will travel to Washington, D.C. for the Discovery Channel's young scientist competition.