Student science fair deserves funding


POSTED: Saturday, April 11, 2009

DISCUSSION about Hawaii's public schools more often than not focuses on the negative. To be sure, the education system has many problems, but it also has young people, teachers and programs that speak proudly to achievement, as proved by the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair.

The fair equally displays the brainpower of students at private schools and celebrates the sophisticated range of skills and knowledge among Hawaii's youth.

The fair is an annual event that should receive robust support, but funding for the fair has yet to be included in the 2010 budget by the state Legislature or the Department of Education. The program doesn't receive a huge allotment—just $500,000 in the last biennium—and is money well spent, drawing a record 513 student participants this year.

Projects by competitors explore complex issues using high-tech procedures to compile and analyze data and build conclusions. This year's winner, Lucia Mocz, a Mililani High School senior, performed a computer analysis of urban hazards, while the second-place competitor, Nolan Kamitaki, a junior at Waiakea High on Hawaii island, examined the spread of infectious diseases.

Scientists and college professors who judge the projects were impressed by the level of research students in high schools and middle schools can produce. The fair shows that when challenged and instructed by teachers such as Steven Zeiher of Waiakea Intermediate and Estan Revnon of Kapolei High, both of whom were named science teachers of the year, young people can excel.

We congratulate them all.