Defending STEM Fair high school champion Yun Ha Seo, a senior at Tinian High School, dominated the science fair competition after being crowned the overall champion and official representative of the Commonwealth to the upcoming Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Seo will compete with 1,600 other bright and young scientists in Los Angeles, California this May. The national contest is considered the world’s largest international pre-college science competition and hosts over 70 countries, regions, and territories annually.
Seo entered the Mathematics category with a project about the Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, or RSA, algorithm. The high school student implemented the algorithm into a computer software as an encryption. Her project bested dozens of other entries from both private and public high schools during Saturday’s competition at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.
Seo said it took her over four months to finalize her entry with her teacher-coach Mikkel Castro. She vowed to work harder this year as she once again represents the CNMI as state champion.
“I worked a lot harder this year so I feel like I will do better,” she told Saipan Tribune. Seo plans to improve her project by developing a double encryption.
Her teacher coach was just as excited. “We weren’t sure if she was going to win. We are happy with the project she did. I feel awesome that she will be representing the CNMI using math and technology. That is totally amazing to me,” Castro said.
Four other students who also bagged gold medals in their divisions will compete at the Guam science fair this April. They include Tinian’s Mefi Norech, overall kindergarten to first grade finisher; Mount Carmel School’s Kyla Monique Cabrera, overall second to third grade finisher; San Antonio School’s Raina Avelino, overall fourth to 5th grade finalist; and Tinian’s Nicole Diaz, the overall representative for the sixth to eight grade division.
Over 20 schools, 195 entries
According to STEM fair coordinator Jeaniffer Cubangbang, PSS received a total of 195 entries from private and public schools on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. This is an increase from last year’s 177 entries.
“We would like to congratulate all 195 participants. …It was more than just selecting the best scientists, technicians, engineers, or mathematicians. We celebrate the effort and success of all our students,” she said.
The STEM Fair featured seven categories: life science, physical science, earth and space science, health and nutrition and medical, behavioral and social science, technology and electronics, and mathematics.
Marianas Baptist Academy principal Ramiro Trinidad, who has judged the science fair for 27 years now, said that “usefulness and relevance to the community” is a key component of a winning science project.
“Every year it gets better and better. The student’s presentations were outstanding and I see the progress. You can see the learning process,” he said.
Rota’s Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School’s Marriette Barcinas competed with her project called “Ozone Depletion.” The 7th grader bagged first place in her category. “I will hopefully make it again next year. I can’t wait,” she said.
This year’s sponsors include IT&E, Top Notch, Lollipops, National Office Supply, Pacific Islands Club, Herman’s Bakery, Barny’s Pizza, Century Insurance, and Saipan Advertising.