Like all great science fair project researchers, 5th grader Zach Garza, is not afraid to ask the tough questions. Like this one: “How Many Nails Do You Eat for Breakfast in Your Cereal?” It’s a line of inquiry to which many of us may respond, “I’m not sure I really want to know.”

Unappealing things sometimes end up in the food we purchase, but Garza’s Wilmeth Elementary School science fair project shows that seemingly unappetizing ingredients -- namely, small bits of iron -- are added to our cereal intentionally, for our benefit, and can be extracted through the use of magnets. It’s rather unsettling, but it’s true.

Garza pulverized samples of five popular cereals, pulled out the metal and determined that, for the most part, the amount of iron posted in the nutrition information is actually what’s inside the box -- little pieces of metal that help our bodies function.

On Feb. 4-5, Garza presented his project at the Elementary Regional Science Fair in Garland where he and 21 of his McKinney ISD peers put their respective science fair projects up against the best from Allen, Carrolton-Farmers Branch, Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson.

Garza’s investigation of the great American bowl of cereal earned 1st Place and the Grand Prize, and eight other McKinney ISD students deserve high praise for winning top awards as well.

Here are the results:

•  Zach Garza, 5th grade, Wilmeth, How Many Nails Do You Eat for Breakfast in Your Cereal?, 1st/Grand Prize

•  Jackson Mida, 2nd grade, McClure, Parachutes: Does Size Matter? 2nd Place

•  Courtney Stromness & Madi Black, 5th grade, Glen Oaks, Making Dry Ice Last, 2nd Place

•  Mackenzie Bond, 5th grade, Vega, How Fresh Can You Get? 3rd Place

•  Anna Bose, 4th grade, Wolford, Get Wind of This, 3rd Place

•  Joshua Miller, 3rd grade, Vega, Ready Set Burn! 3rd Place

•  Rose McAllister-Ou, 1st grade, Wolford, Things That Plants Need, Honorable Mention

•  Alyssa Terry, 5th grade, Johnson, How Earthquakes Effect Structures, Honorable Mention

Garza was surprised and honored to hear his name announced as the Elementary Regional Science Fair Grand Prize winner.

“Wow!” he said. “There were so many other projects that were really good, too. I couldn't believe mine was picked as the best! I had fun doing the experiment and blending up the cereals. I learned about hemoglobin in your blood and why it is important to have iron."

Very important. So, the next time you kick off your day with a hearty bowl of iron-fortified cereal, enjoy -- and try not to think about hardware equipment.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Specialist, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,000 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, one alternative school and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at