Okinawa High School Students Take on Science Project Challenge: Year 9 of SCORE!

Potential high school entrepreneurs compete for the winning science project

On December 5, 2020, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) hosted SCORE! -- “Science in Okinawa: Research Skills for Entrepreneurship Science Fair.” Held at the OIST auditorium, this is a science competition for high school students in Okinawa to present their unique research themes and propose how to utilize their research results from a business perspective. SCORE! has been jointly organized by OIST and the U.S. Consulate General in Okinawa since 2012, with the aim of providing hands-on science education, fostering entrepreneurial spirits, and developing global human resources for Okinawan high school students by giving them an additional platform for experience in English presentation. This was the ninth event for SCORE!.

This year, SCORE! was held with a limited number of people to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Six teams from four schools in Okinawa participated in the event, with each team presenting a science project that it had been working on. The students came up with a wide range of unique developments, such as verifying the antibacterial effect of "shell ginger," a common plant; a "water exchange game" that can employ household items to educate about the prevention of infectious diseases; and an AI-based wearable device for the tourism industry.

The winner of the ninth SCORE! was a team from Okinawa Prefectural Kyuyo High School, who presented "Development of a Rough Roads Transport System Using Movement Methods of African Snail (Achatina fulica).” The team came up with an innovative idea of developing a transportation system for rough and narrow spaces in times of disaster based on the African snail's unique movement methods, which allow for stable movement even in non-planar terrain despite its large body and shell. "People are often scared of the African snail as an invasive specie, but we thought to find something useful from it. We are happy that our efforts have been recognized in this way," commented Miyu Chinen, a sophomore at Kyuyo High School and a member of the winning team. Each member of the team from Kyuyo High School was awarded a study trip to the United States and an internship at OIST.

Winner: Team from Okinawa Prefectural Kyuyo High School (2020 SCORE!)

Ken Peach, Senior Advisor to the President for Strategy at OIST, said to the students, "Science is a noble calling, born of a natural curiosity about the world around us. It is about using scientific methods to analyze questions, formulate hypotheses, devise experiments, make observations, analyze results with an eye for self-criticism, and find answers to questions. I sincerely hope that all of you will continue to explore science in the future."

Senior Advisor Ken Peach delivering a speech to the high school participants

Some of the teams prepared for their presentations for more than six months, summarizing their research and practicing their delivery in unfamiliar English. For the participants, immersing themselves in their research and working through trial and error with their team members must have been an invaluable experience. OIST looks forward to welcoming future scientists and entrepreneurs to SCORE! next year as well.

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