Science fest in D.C. thrills isle students
The four competitors confronted problems in disaster physics
Four Hawaii students who were among 40 finalists in the recent Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge rate the experience "a blast," said Aaron Rozon of Island School, Kauai.
The whole thing was just amazing, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said the former Kapaa Middle School student. "I'm really glad I got to go."
Others Hawaii finalists were: Melissa Luga of Hilo, a Kamehameha Schools student formerly on the Keeau Campus and now at the Kapalama Campus; Lucia Mocz, previously at Mililani Middle School and now at Mililani High School, and Robert Zane of Mid-Pacific Institute.
They said it was an honor just making it into the finals. They received an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the competition and $500 scholarship awards.
The students competed in challenges at the University of Maryland that tested their knowledge in understanding the implications and scope of "Forces of Nature."
For instance, some challenges included creating a tornado, simulating and explaining how a tsunami forms, determining which color would show best in a dense fog and participating in a chemistry lab relay and medical waste treatment competition.
"They filled a whole room with fog and we had to find out what color showed best," Rozon said. "It was yellow."
Luga said her team created "a beautiful, well-formed tornado" but "the competition was more about thinking out loud and communicating ideas as a team even if the idea did not work."
Zane said presenting his experiment to the public at the National Academy of Sciences was a high point for him.
Mocz said the competition gave her her first opportunity to travel on a plane. "I had fun touring the monuments and museums in Washington, D.C., and even more fun taking pictures of the first squirrel I saw in my life."
"Aaron and I met Congressman Ed Case at Capitol Hill and the House of Representatives recognized all finalists on the congressional floor," Luga said.
The competition involved demonstrating a televised science activity, and Luga danced the hula to demonstrate the concept of conservation of angular momentum.
The students agreed that meeting kids from different states was one of the best things about the competition.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's LINEAR program named a minor planet after every finalist and asteroids were named for the students' mentors.
The Hawaii students were selected for the national competition based on projects at the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair.
For students preparing for the next science fair or competition, Zane advised: "You need not be a great scientist or use big words that other students cannot understand. You just need to look around your home, the community, to find a subject that interests you."
He said students should be inventive and be prepared to make their own scientific instruments if needed.
Projects of the four Hawaii finalists were:
» Luga: "Phase II: Phytoceutical Potential of the Melaleuca quinquenervia."
» Mocz: "The Fractal Model: A New Model to Analyze the Development of Fish Scale."
» Rozon: "Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water."
» Zane: "Oiling the Waves: Surfing With the Fire of the Ancients."