Through trial and error, MHS students place at Hawaii State Science Fair

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By Caitlyn Resurreccion
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(Photo courtesy of Nicholas Shaw (10)) After months of hard work of scientific investigation, Nicholas Shaw (10) presents his project, titled “The Effect of Instagram on Teenagers’ Motivation to Smoke,” at the 59th Hawaii Sate Science & Engineering Fair.

With months of investigating and analyzing behind them, Central Oahu District Science and Engineering Fair finalists presented their projects at the 59th Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair (HSSEF) from March 28 to 30. Among the finalists were five groups; Sophomores Karlee Skaggs and Anna Womack, Alyssa Arment and Jadon Morales and Senior Krystle Imamura placed second in their respective categories. Sophomores Emily Travis, Kristyn Nakayama and Reannon Suzuki were awarded the Stockholm Jr. Water award, and Sophomore Nicholas Shaw received first place for the University of Hawaii Cancer Center Award.

“We’ve learned quite a bit from this. We know now how much it takes to design an experiment and make a board and how to organize your data and we know now what we can do better the next time around,” said Arment.

HSSEF was held at the Hawaii Convention Center. Finalists from each school district presented their projects to a selected number of judges, who are also high school science teachers from across the state. Among the finalists, Shaw presented his project, titled “The Effect of Instagram on Teenagers’ Motivation to Smoke,” which measured the likelihood of teens having the desire to smoke after looking at a smoking post on Instagram. “I feel as if the presentation went well,” Shaw said. “As I was presenting my project (the judges) seemed interested. Smoking is a bad habit that some people have and now that habit is reaching kids my age. Whatever I can do to understand the temptation, whether it’s ‘looking cool’ or ‘fitting in.’ All in all, that’s what my project is.”

(Photo courtesy of Nicholas Shaw (10)) Nicholas Shaw (10, far right) receiving his first place award from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center after hours of presenting his project.

Since most of the work was done separately from regular class time, some students struggled to balance school life and other activities in order to conduct their experiments. “We had a lot of school work and we had to be able to balance when we could meet up and juggle our parents schedule and not only our own so that we could meet up and make sure that it would get done,” Arment said. Shaw added, “I definitely had to change prescheduled dates to make time for the (fair).”

Although none of the students placed first, the hands-on investigation and months of research did not go to waste. “It helped me to become more of an independent and guided me towards the path of the real world,” Shaw said. Arment added, “It’s really interesting to know that all of our hard work has paid off and our project really was good enough and interesting enough to advance not once, not twice, but enough to make it to states.”

Many students participated in in hopes that they would be able to learn and grow from their experiences not only in science, but in other aspects of their life as well. “I think they learned the whole process of science investigation and they were able to pursue their passion in the science field. They also learned a lot from the topic that they investigated and gain more confidence,” Science teacher Namthip Sitachitta said. Arment added, “I learned a lot already, not only from my project but other skills, such as time management and learning how to work with somebody.”

The finalists will continue with their in-class scientific investigation and work towards pursuing future careers in the science field.