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Iao project judged best in public schools

Student’s research on wave power grabs honors at state science fair

April 16, 2008
By LEE IMADA, News Editor
An Iao Intermediate 8th-grader’s science project on wave energy was judged the state’s top junior-division public school research project at the 51st Hawaii State Science & Engineering Fair held earlier this month on Oahu.

Janelle You created a wave energy simulator while trying to discover what type of wave produces the most electricity. Her work was particularly pertinent given the announcement earlier this year of an Australian company’s plan to build a 2.7-megawatt wave energy generator off Maui.

Her simulator project involved using a water-filled air mattress for the ocean and a floating buoy wave generator made from a steel ruler, coils and magnets. Her project, titled “Wave Power: What Type of Wave Produces More Electricity,” determined that larger waves with lower frequency were the best for her wave power generator.

You also garnered the Hawai‘i Academy of Science Junior Research Best of Category— Energy & Transportation award; and second place in the Tesoro-Hawai‘i Academy of Science Junior Research Grand Awards.

Other awards won by You came from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and AC Engineers; University of Hawaii-Manoa College of Engineering; Scientific American; Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society; Society for Science Middle School Program; and U.S. Navy/Marines.

Another big winner at the state science fair was Molokai High School senior Ayla Bicoy, whose project “Redesigning Molokai’s Lifeline” focused on restoring the reef at Kaunakakai Wharf.

She captured awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Hawaii Section; Engineers and Architects of Hawaii; University of Hawaii-Manoa College of Engineering (with teacher Malia Lee); Society of American Military Engineers, Honolulu Post; Makai Ocean Engineering; Hawaiian Dredging and Construction Co.; U.S. Navy/Marines; Discover Your World With NOAA Award; McInerny Foundation (with Lee); and Hawaii Pacific University/Senior Best in Category — Engineering.

An avid fisher and diver, Bicoy has heard stories from her grandparents about the once thriving reef around “Molo-kai’s lifeline” — the Kaunakakai Wharf. Through the years, sediment has built up along the eastern face of the wharf, killing the reef, she explained.

“I really care about our reef,” said Bicoy, who is hoping to attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall. “Without this large section of reef, it’s dead. . . . It puts stress on other sections of the reef.”

Her goal was to help bring about the return of a “sustainable reef” at the wharf, the lifeline through which the island gets its food, gasoline and other necessities.

“I was trying to get a better design to get more sediment to rush under it (the wharf),” she said.

Her project involved experimenting with different types of causeways under the road to the breakwater. With the causeway, the sediment could flow into the deep water harbor and be flushed out to sea during storms.

Bicoy created a model of the wharf with five different types of causeways. She collected sediment from the wharf area and let it flow into her model with water.

Her tests revealed that a 100 foot causeway under the road with three posts offered the best method of allowing the sediment from erosion and coral debris to flow naturally along the shoreline through the manmade barrier, the wharf.

She will be attending the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) to be held in Atlanta from May 11 to 16. Her project and that of Veronika Biskis and Meghan Luther were chosen to attend the international science fair as the top projects in the Maui Schools Science & Engineering Fair in February.

Biskis and Luther, whose project was titled “Stereotypes: As Seen On TV,” also grabbed many awards at the state science fair.

The Baldwin duo, both seniors, captured the Hawaii Pacific University/Senior Best in Category — Behavioral Science honor as well as awards from the American Statistical Association, Hawaii Chapter; Maui Economic Development Board — Women in Technology; and Hawaii Psychological Association.

Another major winner at the state science fair was Anthony Griffith of Lahaina Intermediate School, who received the Science Teacher of the Year Award: Chevron/NOAA Pacific Region ISEF Teacher Trip Award. Griffith will attend the ISEF along with students from Maui.

Others at the state science fair, held March 31 to April 2 at the Neal Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall, won the following awards:

• Kevin Kim, 12th-grader, Baldwin High — McInerny Foundation (also recognizes teacher Barbara Huntley).

• Lauren Shinozuka, 10th-grader, Baldwin — Hawaii Psychological Association.

• Jamie Teshima and Jodie Tomooka, 10th-graders, Baldwin — Department of Health, Safe Drinking Water Branch.

• Tehilla Ben Gershom, 6th-grader, STEMS Academy — Hawaiian Humane Society.

• Steven Okada, 7th-grader, Iao Intermediate — Friends of Honolulu Botanical Gardens (award also recognizes teacher Mark Cunningham); and Society for InVitro Biology.

• Alisha Summers, 7th-grader, Iao Intermediate — Hawaii Science Teachers Association (award also recognizes teacher Cunningham); University of Hawaii School of Ocean Earth Science Technology; Hawaiian Dredging and Construction Co.; and Society for Middle School Program.

• Lee Imada can be reached at

Article Photos

Molokai High’s Ayla Bicoy did her project on restoring the reef near the Kaunakakai Wharf. She tested several types of causeways under the road to the wharf using a miniature model. The causeways would allow sediment, currently accumulating on the east end of the wharf, to continue its natural migration down the shoreline and out to sea. Her project won numerous honors at the recent state science fair on Oahu. She will also be attending the Intel International Science Fair on the Mainland later this year.



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