IPA Student Takes First Place at First-Ever Virtual HSSEF

iddle school student standing in front of science fair project

ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY Grade 6 student William Meyermann ʻ26 took first place in the Physics & Astronomy category in the Junior Division of the 2020 Hawaiʻi State Science & Engineering Fair (HSSEF) on May 3.

Meyermann’s winning research, The Aerodynamics of Starcraft: Comparing the Drag of Starcraft to Earth Aircraft, was a clever and creative project that arose from his passion for airplanes and how they work. He designed a special wind tunnel with cardboard and a fan to determine the amount of drag on different model aircraft to see how real Earth aircraft, like the Sopwith Camel and F-22 Raptor, compare aerodynamically to the fictional starcraft in his favorite sci-fi movie series, like the Starcraft 1 (i.e., X-Wing) and Starcraft 2 (i.e., TIE Fighters). He found that the Starcraft 2 experienced more drag than the World War I era Sopwith Camel, and the Starcraft 1 was comparable in drag to the World War II planes, supporting his hypothesis that the starcraft would have more drag because they were not designed for the Earth’s atmosphere.

Meyermann’s project also earned him an invitation to the 2020 Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), the nation’s premier middle school STEM competition. Only the top 10% of middle school (grades 6-8) participants from science fairs across the nation are invited to enter the prestigious competition.

Middle School Science Teacher Alyssa Kuffel couldn’t have been more pleased with Meyermann’s efforts. “I am truly so proud of William,” she shared. “He was able to adapt and did a great job preparing his project for the new format. William represented IPA extremely well.”

IPA Grade 7 students, Shastine Sirivattha ‘25 and Ka’imipono Khim ‘25, also did very well at HSSEF, taking third place in the Energy: Sustainable Materials and Design category with their project entitled Biomass Energy.

“Ka’imi and Shastine did an amazing job as well,” said Kuffel. “You can see the dedication and time put into the project. They did a great job balancing out preparation and adding in fun to their presentation.”

For all ten of the IPA middle school scientists who advanced to the 2020 HSSEF, participating in this year’s science fair required even more grit and resolve than what is normally required for such an arduous undertaking. With the COVID-19 global pandemic affecting the world, Hawaiʻi Academy of Science, which organizes the HSSEF, had to quickly adapt the format of the state fair to accommodate the newest social-distancing restrictions. They cancelled the in-person event, originally scheduled for April 8-10, and moved the competition to a virtual platform and asked all participants to transform their original display boards into an online experience. Students uploaded their research project to Student Corner and created video presentations for the judges to review and critique.

“I think it was a very challenging transition to make everything digital and create a video that displays all their hard work,” shared Kuffel. “The students have to be extremely proud of themselves. Doing the presentations virtually and under the difficult circumstances was an experience the students will be able to grow from. They will remember this experience for the rest of their lives.”

Congratulations to all the IPA middle school students who participated!

You can find all the student research projects and their audio presentations online at Student Corner.





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