The Prep and The Priory Lower School and the Upper School recently held the annual Academic Fair through Zoom. The Academic Fair allows students to showcase projects that they are working on to faculty and student reviewers. Traditionally held in the gym, students typically prepare poster boards and other visual aids and present their work to each reviewer that stops at their board. Because of COVID restrictions, the in-person format for the fair needed to be adjusted to virtual, which was logistically challenging for those planning the event.
“It was more difficult to prepare and plan for the virtual format this year,” said social studies teacher Misha Matsumoto Yee. “While we are all comfortable using Zoom, it was challenging to think through how presentations for each class would occur.”
Matsumoto Yee teaches multiple courses that require students to present at Academic Fair. She found herself juggling being a Zoom host for 7th grade projects and having to check in with high school projects. Thankfully, Kumu Aggy Kusonoki jumped in to help with her high school students. Across the board, faculty members pitched in to support each other and fill in where they could throughout the event.
A segment of projects was those looking to qualify for the HAIS District Science Fair. Each of these projects was presented to four sets of judges. The judges were comprised of professionals from various fields ranging from science, engineering, and medical industries, as well as student judges. A select few were chosen to represent St. Andrew’s Schools in the District Science Fair. The winner of the district competition advances to compete in the Hawaiʻi State Science and Engineering Fair.
“Overall, everything went smoothly according to the plan,” said Jay Hamura, science teacher and coordinator of science fair projects. “Students said the judges were very supportive and gave them good ideas on how to improve their projects.”
The 5th and 6th grade classes presented science projects for each other in private Zoom Rooms. “How to Measure Surface Tension with Coins" and “The Inner Color of Flowers” were among the many topics explored by the students.
“I am very grateful to our 5th and 6th grade Science and Math teachers, Mara Elliot and James Stevens, for successfully managing the presentations via Zoom,” said Lower School Principal Kaʻipo Bailey-Walsh. “The students’ presentations were well done and they were well-prepared to share their projects. I was very impressed by their choice of topics and how they approached their experiments to get their results.”
Overall, the event was a success and the students ended the day feeling accomplished.
“The students, especially the 7th graders, were proud of the work they did,” said Matsumoto Yee as she explained the feedback she received from her students. “Initially they were nervous about having to present their information, especially since their projects are still in progress; however, they said the preparation and practice they did prior to their presentations helped them tremendously. They walked away with confidence in their ability to present information to others and know that they are able to speak about their topics well.”