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16 Kaua‘i student science projects move on to state competition

LIHU’E — Waimea High School’s Kylen Takakusagi was awarded top honors for his electronic braking system project at the island-wide science fair held at the Kaua‘i Veteran Center in Lihu‘e on Saturday.

Sophia Yates, an eighth-grader at St. Theresa School in Kekaha, took the top honors in the junior category for her project on the effects of coping mechanisms.

They join 14 other Kaua‘i students in advancing to the virtual state competition in March. Takakusagi also qualifies for the May International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta.

Students credit the fair for increasing their access to hands-on learning experiences in science and engineering.

“Beforehand, I didn’t know any of the scientific methods,” Yates said. “So, I think it’s really important that we got to learn hands-on.”

She designed an experiment measuring the effects of two coping strategies — deep breathing and havening (stroking your arms, hands and face). In every step of the process, she followed the scientific method, testing both coping methods against a control group.

At Waimea High School, students participated in the fair as part of their engineering class. For Takakusagi’s project, he had to learn a new coding language.

“I’m a very hands-on learner. So it was fun. I learned to code pretty fast, and then I could do all my bug fixes pretty easily,” he said. “If I had any questions, I just asked.”

He graduates this year, and is planning on attending college to study mechanical engineering.

“This whole project is pretty enjoyable. I like doing all the testing and the putting everything together, and I love to do (computer-aided design),” he said. “That’s what mechanical engineers do. They solve problems using mechanical devices.”

St. Theresa School seventh-grader Lee Duey came in second place in the junior division. He designed a project testing two types of fertilizers. His mom’s botany helped inspire the project.

“I like how (the fair) gives you options. And you get to do it yourself and it’s really fun,” said Duey.

Students received feedback from judges, and are using it to continue to expand on their projects.

“It’s actually really cool when you meet the judges and they help you instead of criticizing,” Duey said. “They’re the actual scientists who know these things.”

The judging panel included current and retired university professors and scientists, researchers with the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, and other community members.

Kaua‘i High School student Priscilla Matthews’ second-place project analyzed existing data to develop a mathematical model to predict socio-economic impacts of global warming.

“There was a lot of input (the judges) gave me, and I’m really going to take it to heart,” said Matthews. “Even though we’re the experts of our projects, theyare the experts, and I will take any constructive criticism that I get from them.”

For some students, their projects are just a jumping-off point.

Kaua‘i High School students Makayla Karimi and Rachel Chidester came in third in the senior division for their project studying cricket populations in Wailua. Even though their original hypothesis was not supported by their data, they are returning to the field to collect more data based on the feedback they got at the fair.

The Hawai‘i State Science and Engineering Fair will be held virtually from March 5 to 27. The International Science and Engineering Fair will be a hybrid fair, virtual and in-person, in Atlanta, from May 7 to 13.

Senior Division Results:

First Place: Kylen Takakusagi, Waimea High School, “Electronic Breaking System;”

Second Place: Priscilla Matthews, Kaua‘i High School, “Developing a Mathematical Model to Predict Socio-economic Impact of Global Warming;”

Third Place: Makayla Karimi and Rachel Chidester, Kaua‘i High School, “Analysis of Soil Chemistry in the Teleogryllus Oceanicus (Insecta; Diptera) Habitat;”

Fourth Place: Blake and Kenneth Hironaka, Kaua‘i High School, Determining the Effects of Several Biotic and Abiotic Factors on the Amount of Basking Chelonia mydas;”

Fifth Place: Fiona Godsill, Marley Marty, Katie Clopton, Kaua‘i High School, “Measuring How the Acoustic Environment Affects Social Groupings and Aggregations of Teleogryllus Oceanicus Crickets.”

U.S. Navy / U.S. Marine Corps Awards Seniors:

Joseph Sams, Waimea High School, “Majors Bay Light Cover;”

Kylen Takakusagi, Waimea High Schoool, “Electronic Braking System.”

Junior Division Results:

First Place: Sophia Yates, St. Theresa School, “Effects Of Coping Skills;”

Second Place: Lee Duey, St. Theresa School, “How Do Different Types of Fertilizer Help Plants;”

Third Place: Penaia Garza, St. Theresa School, “Does Kangen Water Help Plants Grow Faster or Grow better than Using Zero Water;”

Fourth Place: Poutoa Garza, St. Theresa School, “Would a Plant Grow Better in UV Light or Sunlight?”

Fifth Place: Teagan Souza, St. Theresa School, “How Different Flours Affect Different Textures in Cookies.”

U.S. Navy / U.S. Marine Corps Awards Juniors:

Poutoa Garza, St. Theresa School, “Would a Plant Grow Better in UV Light or Sunlight?”

Denali Chun, St. Theresa School, “Texting: A Language of Its Own.”


Laurel Smith, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0424 or
Source: The Garden Island

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