VERMILLION - St. John the Baptist Catholic School second-grader Katey Armstrong really likes her cats. So when the school's annual science fair drew close, she knew she wanted to find a way to involve them for the March 8 competition.

"I just thought about it and really wanted my cats to be in the project ... because they are funny and I really like them," Armstrong said.

Armstrong ended up testing what kind of cat food they liked the best - soft, hard or a combination - and she hypothesized that they would like the soft food the best. She devised an experiment where she timed how long it took them to eat the different types of food and it turned out she was right, the cats liked the soft food.

Armstrong and over 20 other St. John's students developed and conducted experiments on various topics that ranged from Armstrong's cat food test, investigating ketchup preferences to testing what detergent is the best buy.

Each student created posters and were critiqued by judges - usually alumni. After the awards ceremony at the end of the day, the students with the top projects move onto regional competitions.

Sister Tresa Margret, the former principal at the school, now works at the church. It was her idea to start the fair over 20 years ago and it's been a popular annual activity ever since, she said.

"The students love it and the parents like it," Margret said. "Actually it's a big community thing."

Sisters Sam Werner and Becca Lucking went to the school for their elementary education and helped judge this year's competition.

The two said they remembered the event being a "big deal" when they were students and now were happy to help judge the students.

"It's a good way to give back to our school," Werner said. "It's our turn to be alumni."

The following students made it to a regional competition in Mankato or Archdiocese of St. Paul and the Minneapolis Big Bang STEM Fair.

• Charlie Meyers, fourth grade, "ketchup" project, regional and Big Bang

• Kaylee Pohl, fourth grade, "bath bomb science" project, regional

• Lily Simones, fourth grade, "goodbye stains" project, regional and Big Bang

• Cooper Wagner, fourth grade, "which paw" project, regional

• Case Bowers, third grade, "plant talk" project, regional

• Brennen Lohmann, third grade, "how my soybeans grow" project, regional and Big Bang

• Nate McPherson, third grade, "pet sense" project, regional

• Chace Reinardy, third grade, "light does matter" project, regional

• Leo Waltman, third grade, "egg vs. egg" project, regional