Kohala Students Honored for Science in Washington, DC

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A group of four Kohala Middle School students is in Washington, DC today being honored as winners of a national science competition.

President Obama is hosting the second White House Science Fair celebrating winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math competitions from across the country.

KMS students Isabel Steinhoff, Rico Bowman, Genevieve Boyle and Mina Apostadiro, along with mentor Lani Bowman, took on what appeared to be a Sisyphean task: collecting 6,000 household batteries – roughly equivalent to the population of their rural North Kohala district – for recycling in a 60-day period. Their “6,000 in 60” campaign made them the grand prize winners in the middle school category in the “We Can Change the World Challenge.”

The White House described the 6,000 in 60 project as “improving the environment one community at a time.” It noted that the effort included a campaign to improve the North Kohala community’s use and disposal of batteries by providing information on the harm from the improper disposal of batteries and on local opportunities for recycling.


According to a White House statement, today’s event will include an announcement from President Obama on key steps his administration will be taking to help more students excel in math and science.

The first science fair was held in 2010, fulfilling a commitment Obama made in his “Educate to Innovate” campaign.

“If you win the NCAA championship, you will come to the White House,” Obama said. “Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”


Other senior administration officials attending the fair include the heads of the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The White House Science Fair honors over 100 students from 45 states representing more than 40 competitions and organizations.

Hunter Bishop, deputy director of the Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management, said the students showed how initiative, ingenuity and dedication can make a major difference in their community.


“The Department of Environmental Management is especially grateful for so effectively highlighting one of the many recycling opportunities that help keep our beautiful island clean, healthy and safe,” Bishop said. “These students’ outstanding success on the national level is well-deserved, and we are proud of them.”

The four Kohala Middle School students were among nearly 18,000 elementary, middle and high school students competing in the We Can Change the World Challenge sponsored by the Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, the National Science Teachers Association and the College Board. The foundation said the aim of the challenge is to empower young people to create solutions to today’s environmental problems.

The second-place winner in the middle school division came from Iowa City, Iowa, and involved educating community members and lawmakers about the hazards associated with radon gas entering homes. The third-place finisher was a team from Acton, Mass., which focused on reducing wasted electricity including “phantom loads” created by electronic devices even when they are turned off.


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