Student makes fuel from kukui nuts

LIHU’E — Aaron Rozon may not have a driver’s license, yet, but when he does, he’ll be ready.

Rozon, a student at Island School, was the blue ribbon winner in the Junior Research division of the Kaua’i Complex Area Regional Science Fair with his project on biodiesel created out of Kukui Nut oil.

With a lot of attention being paid to alternative sources of energy over fossil-based fuels, Roson said he spent some time researching, but it was pretty difficult since “they don’t have too much information on the Internet.”

“They have biodiesel from other organic oils, but there’s nothing from kukui nuts,” Roson said.

In the process of investigating the kukui nut, Roson was also immersed in the cultural aspects of the kukui nut. He explained spending a lot of time at Kamokila Village learning about the significance of the kukui nut in Hawai’i.

The process of deriving the biodiesel oil took about four days, Roson said, explaining how the various washes and processes leading to the eventual biodiesel were very time consuming.

All of the processes were recorded, and Roson, in addition to having his literature and records available, had a DVD playing at his display.

“It works,” Roson said proudly, about the biodiesel. “We actually used it in the car (for testing and measuring), and it drove us all the way home.”

Another student, Ligaya Roman of Kapa’a High School, although not placing, presented a similar project dealing with alternative energy sources. Hers was titled, “What type of nut produces the most energy.”

Kaua’i Area Complex Schools Superintendent Daniel Hamada noted that all students who had projects at the regional fair were winners.

“These are the cream of the cream,” Hamada said of the student entries. “In the process of creating these projects, the students accomplished three or four of the General Learner Outcomes.”

Hamada said the first GLO was community contribution, with the students demonstrating their connectivity to the community and coming up with ways of bettering life in their community.

Secondly, Hamada said the students learned “Problem Solving,” and “Communication,” noting that when he discussed the event with judges, there was an overall agreement that the students were “very poised, and confident of the work they had done.”

Finally, Hamada said these students are “quality producers, and should be commended for their accomplishments.”

Dylan Cockerham is a ninth-grader at Kapa’a High School, and his continuation of a project on bottle rockets led to a blue ribbon in the Senior Research division.

Cockerham’s project involved the creation of various sized rockets and working with different water/air ratios in determining the best heights for the rockets.

“The whole thing goes fast,” Cockerham said. “Seven seconds, and it’s over.”

Cockerham said the average rocket reaches heights of between 60 and 70 meters, but the good rockets can attain heights of over 100 meters.

Estee Katon, a student at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, topped the Junior Display competition with “All About Bees.”

Kayley Ancheta, another student at CKMS, took second with “Solar System — past and present.” Third place honors went to a Waimea Canyon School team of Bronsen Hiraoka and Chaslene Halog who presented “Hypnotic vision.” Hana Imai of Kapa’a Middle School rounded out that division’s leaders with “Manipulating with Mordants.”

The Kapa’a High School team of Kristen Miyasaki and Marissa Agena took second place in the Senior Research Division with their “Aeration brewing method of compost tea: fertilizer or disease preventative.”

Nalani Haviland of Kaua’i High School submitted “Glucometer Wars,” and the team of Patrick Tran and Dustin Valdez of Kapa’a High School presented “Wind turbines” to round out the leaders in that division.

Serena Wong and Lauren Claypoole, another team from Island School, captured second place in the Junior Research division with their comparison of “Miracle Gro and Triple 16.”

Island School continued to place as Nicole Malapit took third place with her “Bad Apples.”

Joey Silva and Michael Nohara, a team from CKMS, took fourth place with “Color of Light,” and Windy Check and Kara Dastrup, a team from Kapa’a Middle School, rounded out the leaders with “Germination of an idea.”

Barbara Baker spearheaded the two-day event that was held at the Kaua’i Veterans Center through the sponsorships of the Hawai’i Academy of Science. Baker announced that Andy Snow, a science teacher from Kaua’i High School, will be one of the chaperones to the International Science Fair later this year. The trip involves an expenses-paid visit with winning Hawai’i (state) entries to the national competition.

Baker was pleased with the turnout for this year’s event, noting that there were over 70 entries submitted from seven schools including CKMS, Kapa’a, Kaua’i, and Waimea high schools, Kapa’a Middle School, Waimea Canyon School, and Island School.

Baker noted that for the Regional Science Fair, a research project involves forming a hypothesis, and collecting and analyzing data. A display project explains a scientific, engineering, or mathematical concept.

Science fair coordinators included Andrea Bell of CKMS, Kenneth Bigelow and Kevin Johnson of Kaua’i High School, Natalia Boldyreva of Waimea High School, James R. Cox of Kapa’a Middle School, Kimberlee Stuart of Kapa’a High School, Justin Yamagata of Waimea Canyon School, and Jeff Brock of Island School.

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