SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Wahiawa Elementary School was abuzz with excitement, Dec. 2, as 57 fifth-graders representing eight area elementary schools shared their projects with judges, parents and teachers at the 4th Annual North Central District Science Fair.

"The fifth-grade North Central Science Fair has grown from humble beginnings, starting with just two schools," said Rampal Singh, science resource teacher with the Leilehua Complex. "This year, there were eight schools participating, and for the first time, the judges could interview our budding scientists.

"The room was filled with excitement, a great sense of accomplishment and pride," Singh added.
Using the scientific method, each project started with inquiry and a question that could be tested. Students articulated the process to judges, who included U.S. Army engineers, Leilehua High School honors students, Department of Education science specialists and University of Hawaii educators.

"This year's North Central District Science Fair was the best ever!" said Bob Leinau, who has been a judge at all four science fairs. "The quality of the science projects has improved each year. It is amazing to see fifth-grade students producing at this level. This is the type of work product that has application both in higher education and in the workforce."

While each student was honored with special awards, winners were selected and announced at the end of the evening.

For David Hall, one of the first-place winners, the announcement was bittersweet. His father, Staff Sgt. Blair Hess, was not there to see him receive his award because he had deployed that morning with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. Hall credited his father who had helped him to build the catapult for his project and assisted with research and investigation.

"The science behind the projects has gotten better every year, and the quality of the displays was remarkable. It was an inspirational night," Singh said. "We sincerely hope that early opportunities like this will help spike students' interest in science-related fields."

Science Fair Winners

First place:
David Hall, Hale Kula - "How does the weight of an object affect the distance it travels'"
Travis Afuso, Mililani Uka - "Filter away your chlorine today!"

Second place:
Brandi Leong, Iliahi - "Does the way you hold a softball affect the speed of the pitch'"
Cade Yoshimura, Mililani Mauka - "Mneumonics on the brain."

Third place:
Thorin Jean, Hale Kula - "Environmental variables of sweet peas."
Isaac Reibsome II, Wheeler - "Will magnets affect the growth of bean plants'"

Honorable mention:
Emily Travis, Mililani Uka - "Coach, we have to warm up."
Emily Poirier, Mililani Mauka - "Are Wii fit'"

(Jan Iwase is principal of Hale Kula Elementary, Schofield Barracks.)