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First FIRST Awards for Kaua‘i students

LIHU‘E — Robotics students have been earning awards from the time they started getting serious about the program, which is available to students entering school to grade 12 and beyond.

“We never had anything like this when I was in school,” said Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami on Friday, when he got to meet Kaua‘i robotics students Joveline Alice Alvarez of Waimea High School and Martian Binonwangan, Jr. of Kapa‘a High School.

“If we did have these Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics programs, we would have a lot more people with STEM careers,” the mayor said.

Kawakami presented Alvarez and Binonwangan with congratulatory certificates after they became the first Kaua‘i students to have made the “Dean’s List Award” during the 2023 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championships that were held in Houston, Texas.

“Tlhis is the first time a Kaua‘i student has ever won the award, or has been named a finalist for the award,” Kawakami said.

The Dean’s List Award is named after FIRST founder Dean Kamen, and is the highest recognition for an individual student in FIRST Robotics.

Twenty students are chosen each year, selected on the basis of their demonstrated leadership, dedication, and commitment to their team, their community and the mission and ideals of FIRST.

During the state or regional competition, a panel of judges review the submissions of the nominated students who are interviewed until two students are chosen to compete for the Dean’s List Award.

Several hundred finalists from around the nation are chosen out of thousands of nominated high school sophomores and juniors.

Martian, currently a junior at Kapa‘a High School, has been a member of the robotics team since 2018, and was selected at the FTC Hawai‘i State Championship in January as a member of the FTC Team 13088m the CyberSaints.

Jovelina, a junior at Waimea High School, has been a team member since 2019 and was declared a finalist at the FRC Hawai‘i Regional Competition in March. She is a member of Kaua‘i’s all-island FRC Team, Team 2465, the Kaua‘iBots.

Cynthia Hannah-White, a coach, mentor and supporter through the Kaua‘i Robotics Alliance, joined the mayor in congratulating the pair of high school juniors on their achievement. She said the problem facing the alliance that supports robotics and STEM education in Hawai‘i, is the need for a space where the students can practice their robotics education.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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