SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Look up "science" in the dictionary, and the definition is a noun.

Watch excited children exploring the world around them, however, and science is a verb.

These children are sciencing, learning by observing, asking questions and examining things more closely.

Recently, fifth graders from eight schools in the Leilehua and Mililani complexes were represented at the annual Complex Area Science Fair, held March 7, at Wahiawa Elementary School, with a pair of Hale Kula Elementary students earning the top two prizes.

The top three prizes were awarded to Sorenna Jean, 1st place (Hale Kula), daughter of Lt. Col. Robert Jean, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army Pacific; and Marie Hagemaster, 2nd place (Hale Kula), daughter of Lt. Col Andrew Hagemaster, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

A total of 62 projects explored a variety of questions, which intrigued the students. Some related to everyday life, such as the strength of different paper towels or whether soap or hand sanitizer is more effective in killing germs. Other projects were more global.

Students explored acid rain and its impact on plants, or they explored different designs or materials for windmills.

Twenty-six volunteer judges included personnel from the military, School Liaison officers, retired teachers and school administrators, high school students and private business representatives.

Preliminary judging began at 1:30 p.m., and students arrived at 3:30 p.m. At that time, the judges interviewed the students and asked them questions. The judges conferred to determine the final winners, and the consensus was that this was a difficult task because all of the projects were quality products.

Hundreds of family members, teachers and students filled the cafeteria as all participants were presented with medals and a gift.

"In the end, we could only award three prizes, but all students are winners," said Yuuko Arikawa, event chair. "We also encouraged the students to continue their curiosity of the world around us."

Congratulations to participants and teachers.

Complex Area Science Fair Results
First Place: Sorenna Jean, Hale Kula,, "What is the Effect of Agricultural Run-Off on Aquatic Plant Growth?"
Second Place: Marie Hagemaster, Hale Kula, "Oil, Bubbles, and Motion"