JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Soldiers with the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Army Pacific, volunteered as judges for the 2017 Honolulu District Science and Engineering Fair, Feb. 11 and 17, 2017, at the Kapi`olani Community College in Honolulu, Hawaii."The Honolulu District Science and Engineering Fair was established to provide a competition based on the quality of projects done by students, the results of which were presented through exhibits at the fair," explains Lt. Col. Gina Thomas, the deputy automations officer with the 94th AAMDC. Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science in both Biochemistry and Sociology; and has 20 years of experience in the fields of information technology and cyber security.During the event, students within the district, from grades 6-12, showcased their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects.
Students entering the competition are required to adhere to strict scientific rules and requirements that mirror traditional scientific investigation. The criteria utilized to judge the research projects were: creative ability; scientific method and engineering design; thoroughness and knowledge of concepts; competence and skills; and communication and clarity.The State of Hawaii Department of Education Honolulu District asked for volunteers with education and professional work experience in the relevant science fields to judge the students' STEM projects."I thought--What a great opportunity to share my time, to help our youth, by helping to positively contribute to their scientific academic experience," said Thomas. "I may also learn something in the process."The Soldiers' desire to volunteer as judging officials at the fair was motivated by a deep commitment and passion for their community and for science."I love STEM, the more opportunities I have to be around it, the better," shared Thomas. "Especially when it is coming from young people with a desire to contribute to the scientific community.""I think that volunteering is a great way to connect with the civilian population that we protect and defend, as well as bridge the civil-military divide that can result from the limited interaction between the military and civilian communities," said Capt. Hana Lee, the assistant chief of war plans (current) with the 94th AAMDC. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in International Relations and a minor in Systems Engineering.The Sea Dragons were notably excited by the refreshing enthusiasm and interest of the students presenting at the fair."I was really impressed with the students' levels of interest, knowledge, and engagement in their areas of study," shared Lee. "It is imperative that we continue to nurture these young minds so that they can positively contribute to society.""I love seeing the wonders of science through children's eyes," Thomas said. "It's refreshing in the digital age where young attention spans are decreasing exponentially."Thomas, a dual military service member and mother of four, explained the sociological necessity to recognize that humans are social beings and to understand how imperative it is that we help our community grow positively.
"One way to help our community positively grow is to share time and talent with others, helping them learn, ensuring they have positive experiences themselves so someday they have a desire to give back to their community in the future."Whatever your background, there are opportunities to share your time and talents with your community and you should," Thomas continued. "No one can survive alone. There is no future if those who come after us are not taught."The students who win will go on to compete at the 2017 Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair, April 10-12.