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26 island students ready for science competition

By Mary Vorsino

LAST UPDATED: 10:58 a.m. HST, May 13, 2011

More than 1,500 young scientists from around the world, including 26 high school students from Hawaii, converged on Los Angeles this week to show off the fruits of their research.

Judging for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair began Wednesday, and the winners — competing for more than $4 million in awards — will be announced today.

In the Hawaii delegation are some returning students, including three-time international science fair participant Sarah Tamashiro, a senior at St. Andrew's Priory School.

Tamashiro and her research partner, Lindsay Fujimoto, studied how edible fungus — waste from biofuel production — could be used as a cheaper, cleaner ingredient in fish food and nutritional supplements for humans. Tamashiro said the project took about eight months to complete.

Reached this week by phone, Tamashiro was excited about presenting the work to the judges but is more interested in the learning experience and the chance to compete.

"That's the best prize," she said.

St. Andrew's Priory is well represented at the fair. The all-girls school of about 400 students took three of the top four prizes at the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair in March, which featured research from about 500 students from more than 70 schools.

Tamashiro said Priory's stellar showing is thanks to the school's emphasis on science education.

"I think that all of us have this ambition to do more than is expected of us," she said.

The winner of the Hawaii science fair in March was priory senior Connie Liu, whose theories on triangle centers — widely used in engineering and facial recognition technology — have been entered into a math encyclopedia.

Maui High School senior Michael O. Flynn took second place at the fair with a project called "Measuring the Passage of Time for Bodies at Relativistic Speeds with Dynamic Accelerations."

The third-place winners, Priory students Shawnalyn Sunagawa and Sara Middendorf, created a bladeless wind turbine more efficient than conventional windmills.

Correction: Maui High School senior Michael O. Flynn took second place at the Hawaii science fair. An earlier version of this story had an incorrect name.

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