Categorized | Education

Stimulus funds to help save state Science and Engineering Fair

MEDIA RELEASE

Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. has announced $425,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds will go to the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair (HSSEF) to continue the annual event, expand teacher training programs and provide support for the Neighbor Islands to assist students and teachers to attend the state and international events annually.

The funding is being made available under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Part B as part of the ARRA that was passed by Congress in February. Hawaii received a total of approximately $35 million in Part B funds. Governors have discretion over how to use these funds. The Lingle-Aiona Administration has elected to dedicate all of the Part B funds toward improving the quality of public education, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Aiona also congratulated the HSSEF student finalists who will be competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, in San Jose, Calif. from May 9-14.

“The science fair is a unique education event that brings together scientists, teachers, parents and students in the common cause of scientific exploration,” Aiona said. “We must continue to support programs that promote STEM education and provide the skills needed for high paying jobs in our global economy.”

The HSSEF, sponsored by the Hawaii Academy of Science (HAS), provides 6-12th grade students the opportunity to conduct scientific research and present their work in a professional setting evaluated by scientists. Nearly 7,000 students participate each year; 500 attend and participate in the State Science Fair; and 20 finalists compete in the international science fair.

“It has been a pleasure to have Lt. Governor Aiona’s support over the years, especially as a science fair celebrity judge,” said Dr. Gareth Wynn-Williams, president of Hawaii Academy of Science. “These funds will go a long way in extending our efforts to bring more science education to our communities.”

Since 1991, the Legislature annually funded the HSEEF through a Grants-in-Aid (GIA) appropriation. In 2009, the Legislature ended funding and this year’s HSSEF had to use left over funds from prior GIAs and raised $55,000 in private donations, including $10,000 from Queens Medical Center. The Part B State Fiscal Stabilization Funds will allow this program to continue serving students while longer-term private financial support is solidified.

The HAS is a private, nonprofit, professional society whose mission is to promote scientific research and science education in Hawaii and the Pacific region. Founded in 1925, HAS is an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The membership is comprised primarily of working scientists but is open to anyone with an interest in furthering STEM education.

“We have some of the best and brightest minds right here in Hawaii,” Aiona said. “Our long-term economic diversity and growth will depend in part on our ability to transform Hawaii into an economy based on knowledge and innovation.”

Additional commentary by Helen Altonn, dated Saturday, May 8, 2010:

The flight to San Jose for 23 Hawaii students in an international competition in California yesterday turned into a celebration of a $425,000 gift that keeps the state science fair alive.

Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona Jr. announced the funding for the fair and other Hawaii Academy of Science activities before the district and state Science and Engineering Fair winners boarded a plane yesterday for San Jose, Calif., headed for the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair.

The academy appealed for funds in March after the financially strapped Legislature ended support last year.

Academy President Gareth Wynn-Williams, University of Hawaii astronomer, said the organization thought it would not be able to continue the science fair, but it has received a lot of support from the community and now from the state and federal government.

Aiona said the funding is available as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress. He presented the check in a ceremony in the Governor’s Office attended by some of the science winners, family members and science mentors.

He said the administration believes Hawaii’s economy has been overly dependent on land development and that it should be oriented more toward human innovation and knowledge.

The educational system needs to significantly increase high school graduates with problem-solving and analytical skills, he said. “We believe the science and engineering fair achieves this.”

The 23 top district and state winners going to the international fair will compete with 1,500 young scientists from 50 countries.

“My personal opinion is to cut funding from a program like this is very short-sighted and it’s not visionary,” Aiona said.

Nolan Kamitaki, a Waiakea High School senior who has taken top honors in the state fair for six years, said nothing has contributed more to his education and personal growth than that event.

The Big Island youth took second place this year for the third year in the senior research category and has been named with Caitlin Mori of Sacred Hearts Academy High School as 2010 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Wynn-Williams said the academy’s board is enthusiastic about expanding science education opportunities, such as teacher training in schools, mentor programs and strengthening district fairs.

Wynn-Williams noted Dr. Neal Atebara in the audience, a 1982 Waiakea High graduate who won science fair competition with an astronomy project. “I invited him to Manoa to an astronomy conference,” Wynn-Williams said. “It had a big effect on him. He went to Yale, then Harvard Medical School, and most important, he came back to Hawaii as a retinal surgeon at the Queen’s Medical Center.”

The flight to San Jose for 23 Hawaii students in an international competition in California yesterday turned into a celebration of a $425,000 gift that keeps the state science fair alive.

Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona Jr. announced the funding for the fair and other Hawaii Academy of Science activities before the district and state Science and Engineering Fair winners boarded a plane yesterday for San Jose, Calif., headed for the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair.

The academy appealed for funds in March after the financially strapped Legislature ended support last year.

Academy President Gareth Wynn-Williams, University of Hawaii astronomer, said the organization thought it would not be able to continue the science fair, but it has received a lot of support from the community and now from the state and federal government.

Aiona said the funding is available as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress. He presented the check in a ceremony in the Governor’s Office attended by some of the science winners, family members and science mentors.

He said the administration believes Hawaii’s economy has been overly dependent on land development and that it should be oriented more toward human innovation and knowledge.

The educational system needs to significantly increase high school graduates with problem-solving and analytical skills, he said. “We believe the science and engineering fair achieves this.”

The 23 top district and state winners going to the international fair will compete with 1,500 young scientists from 50 countries.

“My personal opinion is to cut funding from a program like this is very shortsighted and it’s not visionary,” Aiona said.

Nolan Kamitaki, a Waiakea High School senior who has taken top honors in the state fair for six years, said nothing has contributed more to his education and personal growth than that event.

The Big Island youth took second place this year for the third year in the senior research category and has been named with Caitlin Mori of Sacred Hearts Academy High School as 2010 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Wynn-Williams said the academy’s board is enthusiastic about expanding science education opportunities, such as teacher training in schools, mentor programs and strengthening district fairs.

Wynn-Williams noted Dr. Neal Atebara in the audience, a 1982 Waiakea High graduate who won science fair competition with an astronomy project. “I invited him to Manoa to an astronomy conference,” Wynn-Williams said. “It had a big effect on him. He went to Yale, then Harvard Medical School, and most important, he came back to Hawaii as a retinal surgeon at the Queen’s Medical Center.”

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