Maui High Leads Strong Showing by Public Schools at Local Science Competitions

Maui High School's Science Team standing from left to right: Gabriel Salazar, Christopher Kim and Riley Camp. Seated in front: Steven Okada, and Bryson Galapon.
article top
Maui High School’s Science Team standing from left to right: Gabriel Salazar, Christopher Kim and Riley Camp. Seated in front: Steven Okada, and Bryson Galapon.

REPORT FROM THE HAWAII DOE – Maui High School is once again No Ka Oi in the Hawaii Regional Science Bowl. In capturing their fifth state title since 2002, the Sabers also led an unprecedented effort by Hawaii’s public schools in the January 26 competition.

The Sabers returned to the champion’s circle going undefeated throughout the recent Science Bowl at Honolulu Community College. By winning the Science Bowl, the Maui High School Science Department receives $500, and each member of its team receives an expenses-paid trip to the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C., April 25-29. Farrington High School’s Team I also placed fourth, winning $200 for the Governors’ Science Department.

Quarterfinalists include four public schools, each of which won $100 for their respective science departments: Pearl City, Waiakea, Waipahu Team I and Waipahu Team II. The wildcard champion was Mililani, which won $50 for its science department. Other schools competing this year included Farrington High Team II, Kealakehe, Konawaena, Moanalua and Waimea. At the Science Bowl, competitors are asked questions from areas such as chemistry, physics, biology, math, and earth and space science.


“Going into the competition, I knew that our team had prepared extensively,” said Maui High senior Steven Okada. “As a result, we entered with confidence, knowing that we were among the best teams there. I felt that although anything could happen, we had a pretty good chance of winning.”

In addition to Okada, the Maui High team is comprised of Riley Camp, Christopher Kim, Bryson Galapon and Gabriel Salazar. They are led by retired Maui High science teacher Ed Ginoza, who believes that the competition and studying for the event give the teens self-confidence.. Ginoza added that the competition also prepares the students for college and real life, in which they need to do a lot of self-preparation.

“I enjoy working with the kids, and the kids appreciate what you do for them,” said Ginoza, who’s been retired for 12 years. “I’ve had one former student say if it wasn’t for what we did for him, he wouldn’t be working for Microsoft today. Another got a full ride to MIT. For kids, the payoff is really, really big.”

Since its inception in 1994, more than 1,900 students representing more than 50 schools have participated in the Hawaii Science Bowl.

“Public school students have made tremendous gains recently in the Hawaii Science Bowl,” said Justin Mew, principal of Niu Valley Middle School and master of ceremonies for the 2013 Hawaii Regional Science Bowl. “Our students’ growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) reflects the outstanding dedication by our teachers in preparing students for college and careers.”

Students who have participated in previous Hawaii Science Bowls have gone on to become Presidential Scholars and graduates of some of the nation’s most renowned educational establishments including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, California Institute of Technology, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon.

Maui’s Okada, who is a merit scholar, Presidential Scholar finalist, and holds the state’s top Advanced Placement scores in math and science, has been offered a full-tuition scholarship from the University of Southern California.

Two days before the Hawaii Science Bowl, Okada took the top spot at the 54th Annual Maui Schools’ Science and Engineering Fair, winning a trip to the Intel International Science Fair in Phoenix from May 12 to 17. Okada’s project, “Spectral Analysis of Quasar Time Dilation,” looks at time dilation and Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity as they relate to quasars. With her project, “Artificial Nesting Structures For Hawaii Coot Nesting Successes,” Molokai High 10th grader Sarah Jenkins placed second at the Maui Fair, also securing a trip to Phoenix. Both Okada and Jenkins will feature their projects at the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair, April 7 to 9 at the Hawaii Convention Center.