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STEM Fair highlights issue-driven research, science projects

RESEARCH and science projects pertaining to current issues — the need for sustainable energy, the casino industry, crime and health — were among the highlights of this year’s CNMI-wide Public School System STEM Fair at Chacha Oceanview Middle School on Saturday.

Winning first place in the high school Green Dream competition was Marianas High School.

The MHS team was composed of Anjenette Jewel Cubangbang, Ian Rei Magno Cataluna, Hajin Oh, Michaela Gaile Gatdula, Marie Christ Manebo and Melody Gaeyun Yang, They selected the Commonwealth Health Center for their Green Dream project.

“We chose the hospital because it is important to many people,” said Cataluna, the team’s head architect.

Their blueprint for the hospital incorporates eco-friendly and sustainable features, including those related to recycling and a solar canopy.

“The hospital is a very big building, it uses a lot of electricity,” Cataluna said in an interview. He noted that the hospital currently owes $19 million in utility bills.

“We wanted to reduce that through renewable forms of energy by using the sun, the wind and anything that might provide renewable energy for the hospital,” Cataluna added.

The MHS team will represent the CNMI in the Green Dream Home competition to be hosted by the University of Guam on March 24.

In high school Research category, there was only one entry. Kagman High School student Alyssa Cepeda researched the role of the purple hermit crab, or Coenobita brevimanus, as forest frugivores or fruit eaters.

She wanted to determine what role the purple hermit crabs, which are commonly seen in the CNMI, play in the forest and if they are beneficial in any way.

For her experiment, Cepeda captured 10 crabs and placed them in an enclosed habitat. She fed them a variety of fruits from selected species and found that the fruits were eaten but no seeds were destroyed.

In the high school sciences category, Mount Carmel School student Aldwin Batusin’s research on casino gaming won first place.

Titled “CasiNO or Yes?,” Batusin’s project aimed to educate the community about the casino industry in the CNMI.

He said he started his research by surveying 50 people. “Based on our results, people have different opinions according to their age group,” he said, but added that overall, most of the respondents felt the casino would have a negative impact on the community.

Batusin’s project included data and graphs. He stated: “Our models show increases in the Gross Domestic Product or GDP and tourist arrivals since the casino industry began in the island. As a result, our economy experienced huge growth from the casino industry. The casino industry brings economic benefits to the CNMI.”

Eskuelan San Francisco De Borja’s Michael Jon Cantil topped the 6th-8th grade category. His project was titled “Smart Street Lighting System” and it aimed to help conserve electricity by using street-lighting-control technology.

“The system is said to reduce energy consumption by up to 65 percent, and reduces maintenance costs by as much as 90 percent,” he said.

In the 3rd-5th grade category, Green Meadow School student Samuellino Cabrera won first place with his “Hydraulic Robotic Powered Arms.”

He wanted to prove, through his project, that more work can be done with less human effort by using the hydraulic method and combining the use of force to create more energy.

Other projects involved health-related research, including the relationship between blood glucose and a person’s age, and the relationship between video games and blood pressure.

There were also do-it-yourself projects, including a popcorn machine and a home-made air-conditioning unit that uses an ice box and small electric fan.

There were also projects related to preventing crime by preventing dropouts and getting PSS to reach out to students who are at-risk.

Kindergarten to 2nd grade projects included toy cars; Lego toys and math skills; what Gummy Bears look like when soaked in milk, water, or vinegar; and how mongo plants grow.

One of the judges, Tina Sablan, deputy communications director at the Office of U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, said the projects were all interesting. “I have been a science judge before, and I’m always interested in the topics that students choose to do research on, because it also says a lot about the issues that they are paying attention to.”

Rep. Edwin Propst said the participating students are gifted, adding that many of the projects and research were issue-driven.

PSS-Capital Improvement Project coordinator Rachel Fusco, who judged the Green Dream competition entries, agreed with Sablan and Propst.

MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera, who judged the middle school entries, said she noticed that many projects were about preserving the community. “It showed passion for our community. They have critical investigative minds to solve problems.”

Asap Ogumoro, CNMI Public School Science coordinator and STEM Fair chairman, said 144 students participated in this year’s event.

“This year we had 10 to 15 fewer participants. Our STEM Fair packet came out late. It was released in December. It was late for our event in March. I say late because students and teachers need a lot of planning time,” he said.

However, he said the STEM Fair was still successful. “We saw some great entries. Kids are now becoming more adventurous, and exploring different areas. A lot of the projects are also targeting issues in our community. It tells us that students are learning skills at different levels, skills which allow them to investigate topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”

2018 CNMI PSS STEM Fair winners

Kindergarten to 2nd Grade

1st – Oliver Pauling, Brilliant Star – Pearly Shells

2nd – Princess Gin Mahusay, Eskuelan San Francisco De Borja, How Mongo Plants Grow

3rd – Kennani Villagomez, Mount Carmel School – Gummy Bears

3rd Grade to 5th Grade

1st – Samuellino Cabrera, Green Meadow School – Hydraulic Robotic Powered Arms

2nd – BJ Dela Cruz, Tinian Elementary School – Hologram Projector

3rd – Jii Lee, Saipan Community School – “Stamp with your sit bones”

6th to 8th Grade

1st – Michael Jon Cantil, Eskuelan San Francisco De Borja – Smart Street Lighting System

2nd – Jack Paul Lizama, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School – “What is the most efficient and economical stove”

3rd – Danny King, Grace Christian Academy in Rota – “Trap Them”

High School Sciences

1st – Aldwin Batusin, Mount Carmel School – “CasiNo or Yes”

2nd – Jaeo Yon Lee, Saipan Southern High School – Waste to Energy

3rd – Natalie Montano, Saipan Southern High School – “More Casinos Equal More Visitors?”

High School Research

1st – Alyssa Cepeda, Kagman High School – “The role of purple hermit crabs as forest frugivores”

High School Green Dream

1st – Marianas High School – Green Dream CHC

2nd – Kagman High School – Green Dream Joeten Superstore

3rd – Rota High School – Green Dream, a compound

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102829-stem-fair-highlights-issue-driven-research-science-projects

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