Students win big at state science fair – The Garden Island

LIHU‘E — Twelve students, from Kaua‘i High School in Lihu‘e and from St. Theresa School in Kekaha, scooped 19 awards and $4,600 in cash and scholarship prizes at the Hawai‘i Academy of Science’s virtual 64th annual Hawai‘i State Science and Engineering Fair, held April 17.

“I am feeling very positive that if our students can achieve this level of success this year, the future is incredibly bright,” said Kaua‘i Regional Science and Engineering Fair Director Dan Matthews.

Matthews has been supporting the students for months leading up to the state competition, helping them complete paperwork and prepare their presentations. He even showed up at their appointed interview while making arrangements for the Kaua‘i walk-thru ceremony.

“Conducting research is a multi-faceted process that every student must learn to navigate. But this year, with COVID, these students had to overcome so much more,” Matthews said.

“For this number of students to be recognized for their work is overwhelming. There may be more research resources on O‘ahu and Hilo, but this group of students demonstrated to the entire state what ‘Kaua‘i Strong’ means.”

Matthews said he now knows his Kaua‘i students can compete in STEM (science, technology, mathematics and science) research with any students statewide.

“My personal goal is to have every student participate in at least one program, like the science fair, that requires multiple skills and has a lasting impact on their lives,” Matthews said.

Angeline Chun, an 11th-grader at Kaua‘i High, said her project, “Teenagers’ Mental Health vs. The COVID-19 Pandemic,” finished third in the behavioral and social sciences category. She and her partner Juliet Martin received a certificate from the American Psychological Association as well as a $500 cash prize from The Queen’s Health System.

“Since remote learning started, there has been a lot of uncertainties,” Chun said. “I am very appreciative of many people’s support throughout this process: Mr. Matthews, Mr. Johnson, our psychological mentor Erika, and of course my project partner Juliet.”

Wendy Castillo of St. Theresa School in Kekaha said her school is proud of Keaupuni Miyake, eighth-grader, who took second place in the earth and environmental science division, and Denali Chun, a sixth-grader who took third place in the behavioral and social science division.

Miyake’s project was on the study of beach configurations and the way they handle tsunamis. He received the Grace Pacific LLC $250 cash award, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scholarship $100 cash award, and Broadcom Masters’ nomination.

“I was really surprised, because I did not expect to advance,” Miyake said. “I did not except to make it past the first round, but to be a Broadcom Master nominee is amazing.”

Chun’s project focused on the future of texting as communication, earning her the Broadcom Masters nominations at both the regional and state levels.

Castillo said both Miyake and Chun were supported at school by religion teacher and former Kaua‘i High School Principal Anne Kane.

“She facilitated organizing and registering our learners to enter the science fair, and made sure that deadlines were met and information was shared efficiently,” Castillo said.

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