The Success Factory – NexTech Hawaii held its annual STEM event – FishTank Design Competition – on April 24, 2021. The competition began with 12 teams from across the Big Island. Participants were offered weekly learning opportunities where relevant skill-building topics were covered. This included Problem Solving, Design Thinking, Leadership, Engineering Process, Technical Report Writing, and Presentation Skills. They worked with mentors and subject-matter experts to work through the engineering process to arrive at their solutions.

The virtual event culminated in a two-and-a-half-month competition where local students formed teams and worked on their ideas for a solution to address our island’s COVID-19 recovery. Students identified and worked on solutions from several problem categories – Health and Life, Education, Vulnerable Populations, Community, and Business and Economy.

During the event, the final six Big Island teams made their final pitches to competition judges, who have previously reviewed and rated the teams’ engineering notebooks, engineering reports, and project presentations.

Team B.B.B. – Kaleo Bolton, Satchel Duke, and Lanz Vitalez, all 6th graders from Innovations Public Charter School – shared their idea for FIT Rewards, a fitness tracking watch, and software to incentivize exercise activity.

Team “CIP” – Davey Butler, homeschooled 12th grader, and Cassandra Butler, a 10th grader at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences, shared their idea for a COVID Information Portal, a website optimized to deliver relevant COVID-19 information.

Team “Just Getting Started,” a duo of 6th grader Gavin Wagner and 9th grader Stephen Wagner, students at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences, shared their idea for an Improved Face Shield and Mask Holder for Healthcare Workers.

Team “L.I.V.E.,” a group formed by homeschooled 7th graders – Juneau Stickley, Lilla Loewen, Nova Stickley, and Taylor Harper – shared their Learning in Virtual Environments (virtual classrooms) project.

Team “Mind Benders” – 6th grader Chaske Harrison and 8th grader Jada Cathcart of Volcano School of Arts and Sciences, and Opal Jules, 7th grader at Waiakea Intermediate – shared their COVID-19 Education project, a Covid education pack, materials, and samples that are intended to be delivered to local students and paired with an educational curriculum to be delivered by influencers or celebrities to enhance student interest.

Team “TRI-5”, 11th graders Isabelle Au and Rylee Au, and 12th grader Travis Quesenberry, all of Waiakea High School, shared Hawaii’s COVID Perfect Classrooms project, a framework to allow for a safer classroom set-up in our schools.

Winners of FishTank 2021

The first-place prize went to Team “L.I.V.E.” – Juneau Stickley, Lilla Loewen, Nova Stickley, and Taylor Harper. Each teammate won $300 and an additional $1200 donation to a STEM organization of their choice. In addition, Taylor Harper and Lilla Loewen got $150 Second and $100 Third Best Notebook prizes, respectively.

The second-place prize went to Team “Just Getting Started” – Gavin Wagner and Stephen Wagner. They each won $250 and an additional $750 to be donated to a STEM organization of their choice. Team “Just Getting Started” also won the People’s Choice and Best Idea award, each worth $500.

The third-place prize went to Team “TRI-5” – Isabelle Au and Rylee Au, and Travis Quesenberry. They each won $200, and an additional $500 donation to their favorite STEM organization. Rylee Au also won the $250 Best Notebook award.

Team “Mind Benders” – Chaske Harrison, Jada Cathcart, and Opal Jules – got Most Inspirational and Best Teamwork prizes, each worth $500.

Mayor Mitch Roth, competition judges Heather Kimball, Rebecca Choi, and Doug Simons, and FishTank Helpers Lisa Mason and Renee Ishisaka announced the awards.

Kudos to All FishTank 2021 Participants

The audience applauded participants for their efforts. Raviraj Pare, Oceanit Design Thinking Strategist, shared, “I’m thrilled to see how much each of these teams has accomplished in the last three months.” Raviraj visited with the participants at the start of the competition and shared information about the design process.

Doug Adams, Hawaii County Director for Research and Development, said, “We’re in good hands with the youth that we have seen here today…they are going to be leaders in the future….”

Christian Wong, Hawaii Science & Technology Museum Director, said, “You are so amazing. I’m blown away by the work you guys did. You guys did an outstanding job.”

Mahalo to FishTank Supporters

This year’s event was made possible through the volunteer efforts of the NexTech Hawaii team, parents, and local leaders in the technology, engineering, government, and business sectors.  

We thank Hawaii Community Foundation for their funding of this and other NexTech programs.

Competition Material

In case you missed our competition, here’s the recording and program for this event.

FishTank 2021 Competition Coverage

FishTank Design Competition is an annual event sponsored by The Success Factory, a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves as an economic development initiative by inspiring and building STEM career readiness through NexTech STEM Programs for Hawaii Island youth.