KINGSVILLE - Jose Rodriguez, a senior at Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco High School, participated in a version of the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" during Viper Day at Texas A&M University-Kingsville Friday and won $50.

"They drew out some names and we were answering questions like a game show," Jose said. "It was a lot of fun, everybody was getting into it."

Students played the game for cash and prizes. Jose was one of about 400 students from South Texas high schools who participated in Viper Day in Kingsville Friday. Twenty-seven students from Ben Bolt attended Viper Day.

High schools that participated included Ben Bolt, Benavides, Bishop, H.M. King, Moody-Corpus Christi Independent School District, Tuloso-Midway, San Diego and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo.

Viper Day is an event that gives high school students a glimpse of the biomedical research conducted at the Natural Toxins Research Center, and shows them the benefits of pursuing a degree in sciences. It also provides students an opportunity to tour the newly constructed serpentarium, which houses about 500 snakes.

"I think the serpentarium was very cool," said Haley McKown, a senior at Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco.

Sarah Trevino, also a senior at Ben Bolt ISD, agreed.

"They spit out venom at us," she said, laughing.

Scholarships to Texas A&M University-Kingsville were awarded during the event.

A student from Ben Bolt and four students from Tuloso-Midway High School were chosen to receive $500 scholarships each.

T-M high school student Jonathan Carrion, 18, said visiting the research center has opened his eyes to a science career.

"They can use some of the snake venom with cancer patients," said Jonathon, a senior. "I'm starting to get interested."

Viper Day participants learned about NTRC venom research from posters designed by graduate and undergraduate researchers and from presentations by NTRC staff and guest speakers.

"It's pretty cool, I liked the snakes," said T-M junior high school student Saira Brown.

T-M teacher Adrian Vargas said his students were anxious to tour the center.

"The kids had heard about the trip and they were looking forward to it," said Vargas, a dual credit teacher for AP biology, anatomy and physiology.

T-M student Jaleesa Taube said she was glad the snakes were in glass cases.

"I'm glad we were able to see the snakes in a safe way," she said.

Also at Friday's event, eight seniors with plans to attend TAMUK were awarded scholarships. The $500 Office of Enrollment Management Bookstore Scholarship, which goes towards the purchase of textbooks, was awarded to Ryan Reeder of TMHS.

The Office of the President Scholarship, which is $500 towards tuition, was awarded to Melinda Perez from Ben Bolt and Kevin Crow from TMHS.

The Natural Toxins Research Center Roger Campos Scholarship, also $500 towards tuition, was awarded to Sara Gonzalez, Leslie Viera and Allen Briseno of San Diego, along with Daniel Lopez and Sammy Perez of TMHS.