Graphic by Emily Metcalf
Graphic by Emily Metcalf

BY JORENE BARUT FOR THE DOE – KANEOHE, HAWAII – Castle High School senior Rebecca Weible and Kahuku Intermediate School eighth-grader Brittany Scott took first place in their divisions while Kapunahala Elementary School sixth-grader Camille Aiu placed third at the Windward District Science and Engineering Fair at Windward Community College. William Heyler, a sixth-grader at Maunawili Elementary, took first place in the Junior Display on February 11.

Weible’s win in the senior research division secured her a spot in the International Science and Engineering Fair to be held in Pittsburgh, Penn., in May. She was Castle High’s only entry. Scott and Aiu also advance to compete in the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair to be held April 2-4 at the Hawaii Convention Center. In total, 179 students with 130 projects from 28 Windward DOE schools and one Windward charter school competed at the 26th annual district fair. Thirty-nine of the projects advanced to the state fair.

Weible’s prizes include all airfare and lodging for the international competition. Scott, Aiu and Heyler received certificates and medals.

“Human Impact on Seagrasses” is the title of Weible’s project. Seagrasses are flowering plants, often with long narrow leaves, that grow in salt water marine environments and can resemble a meadow. They provide shelter for associated species, oxygen production and protection from erosion for coastal zones. They are in global decline due to human disturbance.

Weible plans to major in marine biology at U.H.-Manoa. Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology’s faculty member Mark Heckman, researcher Dr. Kimberly Peyton and summer intern Sara Sorensen mentored her at Coconut Island. “As I started to study seagrasses, I realized their significance, even if they are small,” Weible said. “They are so important to the overall ecosystem and balance of the reefs.”

Scott’s project, “Going Glucose Green for Fructose Fuel,” compared different processes for converting sugar into engery to determine the most effective. Aiu’s project, “Bouncing Polymer Ball,” tested different materials to find the most elastic. Heyler’s project was based on whether gray water could effectively irrigate radishes.

“The competition was pretty fierce and winning generates lots of school pride,” said Derek Minakami, Principal of Kaneohe Elementary School. In addition to these schools, students from Hau’ula, Waiahole, Pope, Heeia, Parker, Laie, Kainalu, Kailua Intermediate, Sunset Beach, Kahaluu, King Intermediate, Puohala, Kailua High, Olomana, and Kahuku and Kalaheo High took home awards or honors.

The Windward Oahu District is comprised of two complex areas – Castle/Kahuku and Kailua/Kalaheo. The district serves students in communities from Waimanalo to Waimea Bay with the purpose of providing high school graduates who are college and career ready.

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