Contest heats up as 10 high school teams showcase ideas for solving social issues
Selected teams of high school students from Okinawa presented their ideas for scientific research and entrepreneurship at OIST’s contest, SCORE!
On Saturday, December 10, 2022, OIST hosted the Science in Okinawa: Research for Enterprise (SCORE!), a science fair for high school students in Okinawa. In this contest, high school teams give 10-minute presentations on their projects that use science and entrepreneurship to address social issues, and compete on the originality of their ideas, presentation skills, entrepreneurship, and scientific thinking. For this year’s 11th event, 10 teams from eight schools in the prefecture participated, including three schools new to the contest.
SCORE! has been annually co-hosted by OIST and the U.S. Consulate General Naha since 2011, with the aim of promoting hands-on science education for high school students in Okinawa and nurturing their entrepreneurial skills.
Many of the research themes chosen in this year's contest were aimed towards achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), demonstrating the high level of awareness on social issues among high school students. Such research themes included the development of health-conscious local products, ideas for a barrier-free society, and projects that address environmental issues. Most of the teams took on the additional challenge of presenting their work in English.
At the opening ceremony, Nicole Lima Nucelli, Acting Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General Naha, encouraged the students by saying, "We know that you have really worked hard on your projects. And that trying something new – trying to innovate – can be challenging to say the least. But each of you are here today because you overcame all obstacles. I predict that you will shine today on this big stage."
Nicole Lima Nucelli, Acting Consul General, U.S. Consulate General in Okinawa
The 10 teams' presentations were judged by a panel of five judges from both inside and outside OIST on three aspects: scientific thinking, creativity, and presentation skills. First place was awarded to the team from Zion Christian Academy International, who presented "Evaluation of the ability of star moss (Syntrichia ruralis) to enhance air quality."
This was the first time that a team from the Zion Christian Academy International, an international school located in Chatan Town, participated in SCORE!. The team consisted of 2nd year Mayusha Keerthi and 3rd year Gabrielle Ann Miyagi looked at the air-purifying ability of moss and conducted a scientific experiment to verify its properties. The team then presented their idea of an environment-friendly air purification device that utilizes this property of moss. The judges selected the team for first prize for their outstanding presentation skills, scientific insight, as well as the project’s sustainability, and practicality.
The team of Gabrielle Ann Miyagi (left) and Mayusha Keerthi (right) from the Zion Christian Academy International won first prize for their research, "Evaluation of the ability of star moss (Syntrichia ruralis) to enhance air quality," and was congratulated by OIST Vice President for Communication and Public Relations, Heather Young (center).
Gabrielle Ann and Mayusha expressed their excitement by saying, "Since this was our first time participating SCORE!, we had no idea what to expect. We are really surprised to receive such high evaluations. We have been working very hard for this contest for three months. We believe that many people would like to see products that utilize the potential of moss and would like to continue working on this project for further development in the future."
In her closing remarks, Vice President for Communications and Public Relations Heather Young congratulated all of the participants for their hard work and said, “Today, I am impressed by the breath and depth of the projects. Thank you for showing us your curiosity. This curiosity is at the heart of science and at the heart of your success. May you always call on that curiosity as you strive to be successful.”
Teams that narrowly missed the competition participated in the social event to meet with others and share their research results.
The winners of the 11th SCORE!
First prize: “Evaluation of the ability of star moss (Syntrichia ruralis) to enhance air quality” by Zion Christian Academy International
Second prize: “Dokotenshoes” by National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College
Third prize: “Be cool with bioethanol” by Okinawa Shogaku High School
Special award: “Development of Kusakaran, a New Concept Robot that Turns Weed Fields into Lawns without Cutting the Grass” by National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College
A team from the National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College, who appealed to the judges with their persuasive presentation of “Dokotenshoes,” won the second prize.
The third prize winners that represented Okinawa Shogaku High School received high evaluations for their outstanding scientific thinking in their research of "Be cool with bioethanol."
The special award-winning team from National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College presented their project of "Development of Kusakaran, a New Concept Robot that Turns Weed Fields into Lawns without Cutting the Grass” with a prototype.
Dr. Youhei Morita, Senior Manager for Academic Relations, Conference and Workshop Section, OIST
Mr. Akira Ishihara, Chairman, Okinawa High School Science Education Research Council Principal, Okinawa prefectural NAHA senior high school