State Science Fair Convenes on Monday
Some of the brightest young minds in Hawaii will prove their mettle at the 58th annual Hawaii State Science & Engineering Fair, the signature annual event of the Hawaii Academy of Science. The state fair, staged at the Hawaii Convention Center, includes only 500 of the top students from the more than 7,000 who compete statewide.
This science fair is the Hawaii qualifier for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the largest pre-college science competition in the world.
The event's half century of history was nearly cut short five years ago after drastic budget cuts by the state Legislature. Fortunately, donations and grants flowed in, from $425,000 in federal stimulus funds to $25,000 from a coalition of local companies bidding on Honolulu rail contracts.
While there's surprisingly little information on this year's science fair on the HAS website, what matters most is that the event is still happening.
Students participating in the HSSEF first qualified in regional science competitions: four on Oahu (Honolulu, Central, Windward, and Leeward), two on the Big Island, one each for Maui and Kauai, and one for independent schools.
In the Windward district alone, 180 students from 30 schools competed. Twelve students from the Castle-Kahuku Complex Area are participating in the state fair, representing Castle High, Kahuku High and Intermediate, King Intermediate and Sunset Beach Elementary.
Both regional and statewide science fairs rely on support from the community, ranging from corporate sponsors to volunteer judges. The ham radio club I belong to, the EARC, is one of the many groups involved, and its member judges will select three students to receive scholarships from its KH6IJ scholarship fund in honor of Katashi Nose.
After closed setup and previews on Sunday, the HSSEF begins in earnest on Monday with an opening ceremony and two rounds of judging. The fair opens to the public from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, followed by an awards ceremony.
Winning presentations will advance to the Intel ISEF, which takes place May 10-16 in Pittsburgh. That event involves over 1,700 students from 70 countries, who compete for over $5 million in prizes. And Hawaii students have represented well at the international level: last year, seven "Grand Awards" and 11 "Special Awards" were brought home.
Photo by Ross D. Hamamura courtesy Hawaii Academy of Science.