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TEEN GETS APOLOGY, STATE FAIR INVITATION.

Byline: Associated Press

A teen-ager banned from a regional science fair because his experiment was deemed cruel to fruit flies has received an apology - and an invitation to the state competition.

Ari Hoffman, whose experiment showed that the flies' reproductive rate dropped when radiation levels rose, won first prize at a recent Marin County science fair.

But officials from the Bay Area Science Fair disqualified him from their competition, which included about 300 entries. The experiment, they said, conflicted with the fair's rules against cruelty to animals, both vertebrates and invertebrates.

The 15-year-old student is expected to compete in the state science fair in Los Angeles in May.

``I'm glad they did it,'' Hoffman said. ``I never felt I was cruel to animals.''

The school district presented him a plaque last week for standing up for his beliefs.

``We really felt that you represent what we want kids to do in science,'' said district Superintendent Bill Levinson.

Hoffman's science teacher, Hether Holter, confirmed that he would take part in the state competition.

``I think his project is excellent,'' she said.

Some of the flies never woke up from the anesthesia, possibly due to exposure to radiation, Hoffman said. Others were euthanized because they became infected with mites.

But otherwise, he thinks the flies were pampered.

``I wasn't being cruel to them,'' he said. ``The life they lived was actually a good life.''

For example, he said the flies were kept in tropical temperatures and fed well during the 10-week-long project.

His father, Dr. William Y. Hoffman, worked on the experiment with his son and agreed the bugs were not treated badly.

``There was no point when we looked at a vial and it was full of dead flies,'' said the elder Hoffman, a plastic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, where the radiation treatments took place.

He said that, if anything, his son was simply too graphic in his written description of the flies' deaths, which he submitted to science fair officials.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 30, 1997
Words:334
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