Seoul American twins take top honors at DODEA Pacific science symposium
March 22, 2016
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Seoul American High School seniors Paul and Brian Lee will represent the Pacific in next month’s national Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Dayton, Ohio.
A four-judge panel selected the twins’ projects as the best from a field of 15 finalists from seven Department of Defense Education Activity Pacific schools, over the two-day program.
“It’s a mutual pleasure that we’ll get to share,” said Paul Lee, who also won a $2,000 scholarship for finishing first out of the 15.
Runner-up Brian Lee earned a $1,500 scholarship, and senior Keghan Delacenserie of Yokota, who finished third, earned a $1,000 scholarship. The fourth- and fifth-place finishers were senior Camarah McLean of Kadena and Lynn Vick of Guam High. The winners were announced at a Tuesday dinner at Kadena’s Officers Club.
As the top two finishers, the Lees will be giving oral presentations of the projects at the Dayton symposium, Pacific organizers said. The other three will attend as observers.
The process of reaching Dayton began last year during the initial DODEA Pacific science symposium at Yokota, during which 15 finalists were selected. On Monday, they presented their projects before the judges, each given 25 minutes to make a presentation and answer questions.
Paul Lee’s project involved the differentiation in fat stem cells around organs and under the skin. Brian Lee researched the development of a nontoxic product that could help magnetize oil spills and remove toxic material from the environment.
The presentations were fantastic, said one of the judges, Marine Corps Maj. David Roen, deputy director of environmental affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
“High-quality research, writing and speaking ability, far surpassing what I expected,” Roen said, comparing it to college material. “It’s exciting, it’s encouraging to see students at the beginning of their academic careers show us some of what they can accomplish.”
The amount of work the students put into their projects varied, they said, ranging from a couple of weeks to three months, and involved acquiring some of their project props in a manner befitting the 1980s TV series “MacGyver,” said Vick’s sister, Guam freshman Chey Vick.
One of the projects, presented by Seoul American’s Sohee Kelly Wun and Sumaiya Irfan, involved using five stimulants to measure their effect on growth of chickpea seeds: heat, fertilizer, electricity, magnetism and music.
Sound, they determined, produced the best results; the two used classical music by Chopin, and said they next plan to compare classical music to heavy metal.
In addition to making the presentations Monday, the students took part in mentoring sessions at various Marine Corps commands and took a two-hour tour of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.
The 54th Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, sponsored by the Army, Navy and Air Force, takes place April 27-30 at the Dayton Convention Center.
“We’ll proudly represent” the Pacific, Brian Lee said.