Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, June 21, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Lynne Sueoka and Jeff Chan guide Aiea Elementary students
Cherie Yamashiroya and Mari Maeda, respectively. Their team,
which included students from Moanalua and King Kaumuali'i
elementary schools, created the platinum-award
winning site shown at right.

Quests net prizes
for tech-savvy kids

Hawaii elementary school teams
designed winning web sites in the
national ThinkQuest competition

By Treena Shapiro


The Internet has become so pervasive that elementary school children are already learning how to make money off of it.

Students in the fourth through sixth grades from Kapolei, Enchanted Lake, Lehua, Moanalua, Aiea and King Kaumuali'i elementary schools and Kapaa Middle School won $34,000 for themselves, $22,000 for their coaches and $2750 for their schools in the national 1999 ThinkQuest Junior Web Page Design Contest.

Winning teams were recognized for creating Web pages that were educational and would attract other students to the Internet. Pages explored diverse subjects such as space, green sea turtles, surfing and how the Hawaiian Islands were formed.

Hawaii is a national leader in providing high speed networks in schools to access the Internet, giving students an edge in competing with states that are still struggling with installing wires and cables between schools and districts, said Darrel Galera, an advanced technology specialist for the state Department of Education and a ThinkQuest Junior parent.

With six teams from Hawaii placing among 30 finalists nationwide, it is evident that something is working.

In addition to Internet access at school, students have access to great teachers. Lynne Sueoka, Aiea Elementary technology coordinator, was one of the coaches for last year's only winning ThinkQuest team from Hawaii. She was named 1998 ThinkQuest National Coach of the Year in November

ThinkQuest rules allow only two members of a winning team to team together in following years. So Sueoka and her 1998 co-coach Leah Aiwohi of King Kaumauali'i Elementary, decided to create three teams, drawing from four schools on two islands.

The students communicated by e-mail, Internet chat rooms and field trips. Two of the teams won platinum awards and one silver. They entered different categories to avoid competing against each other.

Only three students, Amber Arrington, Cherie Yamashiroya and Jeff Fines, found the HTML-coding the most difficult part of the project. Research and communication challenged other students.

According to Enchanted Lake Elementary School sixth-grader Mika Sawada, the big technological challenges for her team were creating links to different pages within the web site and developing the interactive games, including crossword puzzles and a scavenger hunt.

Several coaches said children have an easier time picking up computer skills than adults because children are more likely to be risk-takers.

"They aren't afraid to make mistakes and they will try again and again to get what they want," said Lena Kanemori, technology coordinator at Enchanted Lake Elementary.

This extends beyond gaining computer skills. The two-member team from Lehua Elementary, Caroline Fitzgerald and Alana Yuen, signed up for surfing classes as part of the research for their Web site, which won a silver award.

Kanemori suspects that playing video games may contribute to children's aptitude for technology. This could be true for at least one of Kapolei's team of fourth graders, Kalalau Cantrell, who said that he might put some of his $1500 prize into computer games.

Cantrell and the other 9- and 10-year-olds listed scanning and animating pictures among their favorite parts of the project.

"It was like making my own movie film," said Trisha Liu of Kapolei.

Go to for information on ThinkQuest or links to the winning sites.


Hawaii's ThinkQuest Junior Winners

Platinum Awards

Prizes: Student: $1500; Coach: $3000; School: $1000


Bullet How Our Hawaiian Islands Were Formed
Kapolei Elementary School
Team: Trisha Liu, Kalalau Cantrell, Raymond Enriquez, Kawika Banis, Chaleesa Abrazado
Coach: Mike O'Connor

Bullet Journey to New Worlds:Exploration of Space and Hawaiian Voyaging
Aiea, Moanalua and King Kaumuali'i elementary schools
Team: Jenna Akasaki, Aric Banuilos, Sean Galera, Mallorie Hepa, Mari Maeda, Cherie Yamashiroya
Coaches: Jeff Chan, Lynne Sueoka

Science and Math

Bullet Adventures of Lilo the Green Sea Turtle
Aiea and King Kaumuali'i elementary schools
Team: Amber Arrington, Marcus Arrington, Kiah Imai, Noah Imai, Brandon Nakamoto
Coaches: Joanne Fu, Sandy Kaneshiro

Gold Award

Prizes: Student: $750; Coach: $1000; School: $500

Science and math

Bullet Mars Madness
Enchanted Lake Elementary School
Team: Aaron Omura, Mika Sawada, Kara Gustafson, Nani Yong, Kristina Taylor, Ryan Kido
Coaches: Lena Kanemori, Harry Kubo

Silver Awards

Prizes: Student: $500; Coach: $1000; School: $500

Social Sciences

Bullet Aloha Paradise
Aiea and King Kaumuali'i elementary schools, Kapaa Middle School
Team: Carrie Esaki, Jeff Fines, Wesley Okazaki, Logan Rowe, Christopher Tuala, Julie Yoshida
Coaches: Leah Aiwohi, Keith Amano

Bullet Surfing in Hawaii
Lehua Elementary School
Team: Caroline Fitzgerald, Alana Yuen
Caoches: Kevin Matsunaga, Donna Kawasaki

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