First-timers in 56th Maui district science, engineering fair


Photo by courtesy of Ms. Panglao

Megan Miguel displays her project at the 56th Maui Science and Engineering Fair, February 5, 2015. One KS Maui team, Preston Watanabe and Macie Tawata, came away with an honorable mention in the school’s first year of participation.

It was Kamehameha Maui’s first time being a part of the 56th Maui District Science and Engineering Fair, and one team earned an honorable mention February 5, 2015.

Participants included juniors, Preston Watanabe, Danielle Brown, Kaitlyn Castillo, Kauilani Lonzaga, Kylee Kato, Megan Miguel, and Kandace Ota, as well as seniors Macie Tawata, Regina Kuhia, and Lopaka Kealiʻinohomoku. Their supervisor was Ms. Malia Panglao, who teaches multiple science courses.

“It was a bit stressful entering for the first time because I had no idea what to expect and what other projects would be like,” Ms. Panglao said.

Students from the seventh through twelfth grades are eligible to attend the science fair. Students compete by showcasing their science fair projects for the chance to advance to the state and/or international level where they can win prizes including cash and scholarships.

This year, overall winners included multiple students around the district, but mainly ones from Molokaʻi High School. Titles of their projects included topics such as March of the Mangroves, Investigating Agar Extraction and Bring Vak Back, just to name a few.

“Goals were for students to showcase what they had learned and all the work they had done in their research projects, gain valuable presentation and interview skills, see other student projects and what students are doing at other schools, and have fun, too,” Ms. Panglao said.

Kamehameha Maui’s highest placers were junior Preston Watanabe and senior Macie Tawata, who received honorable mention as a pair and are eligible to compete at the state level. Their project was entitled: ELISA: Development & Optimization.

They detected and presented their findings of antibodies in Maui goat and rabbit specimens using the ELISA test. The antibodies are almost identical to the antibodies formed in humans as a reaction to various viruses, so findings in the animals can reflect trends in humans.

Tawata said that they originally chose the project when interest in the ebola virus was high, and they wanted to see how the virus was detected, especially since Preston is interested in epidemiology.

Watanabe described the experience alternately as “fun and obnoxious.” He said that the fun part was actually being at the science fair, but going through the process and filling out all the paperwork was the “obnoxious” part.

He was surprised at their award, saying that they had put some elements of their project off until the last minute, and he thought other KS Maui students had some good projects, too.

Watanabe also felt let down that he and Tawata were not recognized at the awards ceremony. He was told that a recalculation after the awards revealed that he and his partner had actually qualified for an honorable mention, and they were notified the next day in school.

Despite the first-year nerves and glitches, Ms. Panglao hopes the school continues to participate in the Maui science fair striving for more awards and making it a tradition.

“I definitely want to continue for future students and open it up to more students who are willing to take on the challenge,” she said.