After carefully collecting specimens for testing, Jasmine took them to a lab at the University of South Florida. When the results were in, she was speechless. "I found that 70 percent of the time, the ice in the fast food restaurants contained more bacteria than their toilet water," Jasmine says.
Dr. Juan Martinez, assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Chicago, confirmed Jasmine's results in his laboratory. The contaminated ice contained E. coli bacteria that most likely came from unsanitary practices or unclean water lines. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans, some strains are dangerous and cause illness. "I think you're better off not taking ice with [a drink]," says Dr. Martinez.
Minnie and Justus Sr. are the proud parents of Jasmine and Justus. They say education was always a top priority for their children. "When they were young, we noticed that they really liked science and math, so we actually fed it to them," says Justus Sr. "We'd take them to science museums—we gave them exposure to different environments—and this is the result we have now."
Noah says his interest in American presidents began during the 2000 presidential election when he was only 5 years old. "There was a mock election in my school and I wanted to learn more and actually vote for the real reasons, like adults do," says Noah. He wishes more kids were excited about the American government. "I think we need to get kids interested in history to be able to be appreciative of their country," Noah says.
After wowing the audience with a performance of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6, Jennifer creates an original composition on the spot using fives notes selected at random by Oprah.
To get motivated, Johnny decided to raise money for every quarter mile of his swim and donate it to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. On top of setting the world record, Johnny raised a grand total of $50,800 in donations—proving one small person can make a big splash!
Jason's first two shots went nowhere near the basket. His third, though, was a 20-foot three pointer. The fans went wild, and Jason was just getting started. In four minutes, the kid who had struggled with autism his whole life and never played in a high school varsity game sunk six three-pointers! When Jason's last shot went in at the buzzer, the crowd stormed the court, and Jason's teammates carried their hero on their shoulders.
Coach Johnson says he put Jason in the game to reward him for his dedication and hard work. "He came to every practice, he came to many off-season things for us, so it was a way that I could give him a gift back for all the things he gave us," Coach Johnson says.
After Jason made his third shot in a row, Coach Johnson says everyone was overjoyed. "I was just sitting on the bench in complete disbelief with tears running down my face," he says.
Anurag's winning word was "appoggiatura." According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, this mouthful of a word means, "an embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size."
How did this eighth-grader acquire this special skill, and who encouraged him to study for three to four hours a day? "My mom introduced me to my first spelling bee [in fourth grade]. My teachers often said I should just try it," Anurag says. "Ever since then I was interested in the spelling bee."
Want to know more about the intense thrill of the National Spelling Bee? Meet the cast of Akeelah and the Bee, a movie about a young girl from a tough L.A. neighborhood who enters the National Spelling Bee.