Okinawa’s Future is Bright! Start-up Contest by Local High School Students
The event was co-organized by the Okinawa Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and the Consul General of the US Consulate General Naha and was held on Saturday, December 8th at OIST in Onna Village, Okinawa, Japan. It aimed to foster science and English education as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of the local high school students in Okinawa.
Students were invited to compete based on the merit of their previously submitted proposals and came into the venue with slightly tense faces. In preparation for this day, they have conducted considerable research and scientific experiments, developed ideas for commercializing the results and practiced their presentations.
This year is the seventh time this event, "SCORE! Science in Okinawa: Research Capability Science Fair for Entrepreneurs," has been held. It is an event where high school students in Okinawa Prefecture compete by presenting their scientific research projects , which focus on entrepreneurial applications. It is an opportunity to see how future inventors and managers strive to solve problems around us using science and technology.
Twelve teams of students from eight high schools located all around Okinawa Island competed this year. Each team presented a high-quality project and the judges had so much difficulty when selecting the winners that their final deliberation exceeded the scheduled time. Each presentation was evaluated comprehensively, assessing if the scope of the scientific research was appropriate, if the idea was rich in creativity and had an entrepreneurial spirit, and if the presentation fascinated the audience. Ultimately, first prize went to “Development of Fruit Fish Produced in Okinawa Prefecture,” the project presented by Okinawa Fisheries High School’s third year students Yumika Arakaki, Erina Duel Sasaki and Chikara Kamiya. Second place went to Yamato Maeda from the Okinawa Industrial College of Technology who presented "Automatic Collection System for Coral Eggs," and 3rd place went to another team from Okinawa Fisheries High School, "Oki Star Project," presented in English by Kai Morihara and Hidemitsu Miyagi. This year, the judges also prepared a special prize for Norika Tamaki, Yui Asato and Ayana Yukuda of Misato High School who presented “Development of a Communication Aid for Developmental Disorders through the Formant Analysis of Sound Conducted through Bone.”
In addition to an internship opportunity at OIST, a study tour to the U.S. was awarded to the winning team. Erina from the champion team said delightedly, "I did not expect to win, but I am pleased to share what I've studied so far as a result." The "fruit fish," which the team has been working on, is a fish fed a mixed feed using the local flat lemon pulp that essential oil producers usually discard after separating it from the flat lemon juice. The team has been working together with a local aquaculture fisher, and Chikara analyzed the factor that led the team victory: "It is because we brought this project all the way to the point when we could apply for a patent." Yumika also said, "The reason why many people don’t like fish is because of their fishy odor. So we would like to make a delicious-smelling fish. At the same time, we would like to contribute to the future development of fisheries in Japan."
Jury chairman Mr. Michael Ardaiolo from the American Consulate General Naha praised everyone’s efforts and appreciated that every project was excellent and full of imagination. On behalf of the all judges he said, “I feel confident about the future knowing that you are the future generation who will carry Okinawa.”
SCORE! 2018 Teams (in order of participation)
- Okinawa Fisheries High School : “Okistar Project”
- Kyuyo High School : “Natural Insect Repellent Spray!?: Bodily Fluids of the Benibotaru Beetle that other Insects Hate”
- Naha Kokusai High School : “An Examination of the Farming Methods of Sea Grapes Using Artificial Sea Water: A Search for Fertilizer”
- National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College : “Sibyl-Coral”
- Misato High School : “Development of a Communication Aid for Developmental Disorders through the Formant Analysis of Sound Conducted through Bone”
- Kyuyo High School : “Research on UV-Absorbing Substances within Okinawan Plants: Extraction from the stem of Macaranga Tanarius and Application”
- Hokuzan High School : “River Nature Restoration Project: Let’s Return Aquatic Animals to a Dried Up River!”
- Hokubu Agriculture High School : “Village Revitalization by using Green Cinnamon: New Kraki Product Development for the Project to Reinvigorate Ogimi Village”
- Okinawa Fisheries High School : “Development of Fruit Fish Produced in Okinawa Prefecture”
- Chubu Agriculture High School : “Development of Ecological Materials Utilizing Papermaking Sludge: Creating a Healing Space for Industrial Waste”
- National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College : “Development of Underwater IoT and Green AI for a Coral Observation System: Toward the Conservation and Regeneration of Coral”
- Kyuyo High School : “Tourism and Education in the forest”
- Michael Ardaiolo, Vice Consul, USCG
- Akira Ishikawa, Principle, Tomishirominami High School
- Sachihiro Suzuki, Technology Licensing Specialist, Technology Licensing Section, OIST
- Kei Funakoshi, Research Unit Technician, Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit OIST
- Sayaka Toyokawa, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law and Economics, Okinawa University