Waipahu Students, Teachers Win 31 State Science Prizes

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - May 12, 2010
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Waipahu High School science department head Carl Masumoto and teacher Michael Sana (front row, at left) and superintendent Kathyrn Matayoshi (front, red shirt) celebrate the many victories of their 28 students recognized with agency awards at last month’s 53rd annual Hawaii State Science & Engineering Fair. Photo from Michael Sana.

Waipahu High School earned a record 31 agency awards totaling $72,835 last month at the 53rd annual Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair at the Hawaii Convention Center, where 28 students in grades 10-12 were recognized, along with science teachers Michael Sana and Lucille Imamura.

“We were very surprised to have so many award winners considering that this fair was probably one of the most competitive in recent years,” said Sana. “I was so excited for the students because many of them worked really hard during the school year.

“Oftentimes we say that as teachers, we live vicariously through our students. When they succeed, we succeed as well.”

Which could be why Sana and fellow science teacher Lucille Imamura also picked up several awards totaling $5,700 themselves.


“I was very humbled to be the recipient of the (awards), one of which was the Chevron Hawaii State Science Teacher of the Year,” Sana said.“Another one that I am very appreciative of is the Society of American Military Engineers Award.”

This week seniors Ilora Mendoza, Rizzaly Agustin, Michelle Tagapuen and Genardine Arizala are representing Hawaii at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose. The fair will exhibit more than 1,500 projects from 5,000 students in 50 countries, regions and territories. It is the premier global science fair competition with nearly $4 million in awards, scholarships and prizes to be distributed.

“They are all excited to be going to an international competition to represent not just Waipahu High School and the Leeward district, but our state as well,” Sana said.

Mendoza, Agustin and Tagapuen will showcase the Leeward district with their project “Identifying the Effects of Locally Grown Plants on Mealworm Weight and Mortality” in the category of environmental management. Their project examines at how foods from locally grown and genetically modified crops affect the weight and death rate of meal-worms. The mealworms, the students stated, were used as model organisms to offer insight into how food selection affects a human’s overall lifestyle.

Arizala’s project,“Screening for Hawaiian Marine Derived Yeast and Fungi for Production of Antibacterial Compounds,” earned her a spot in the category of micro-biology. It taps into the marine ecosystem to identify organisms that may be useful in developing new antibiotics. She visited various sites on Oahu to screen for marine organisms that might possess antibacterial properties.

“I know that the future of science in Hawaii is in good hands just by looking at how competitive the state science fair was this year,” added Sana.“The science fair is a way to show that they understand science, can do science and that they are going to be the movers and shakers of our society in the years to come.”

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