Above left: Students learn about plastic waste during a Fish Tank kick-off workshop on Jan. 11. PC: NexTech.
Students participating in the first annual NexTech Fish Tank competition must solve a looming problem in Hawaiʻi: plastic pollution. Last year, the County of Hawaiʻi halted its plastic recycling program, leaving some 60 tons of plastic waste to be dumped in the local landfill every day.
Thirty-eight students from schools throughout Hawaiʻi Island are learning about plastic waste and potential engineering solutions as part of the STEM challenge. With coaching from mentors, subject matter experts, and local engineers, they must pitch their own solutions to a panel of judges on April 25 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Teams will be judged and awarded prizes according to their technical reports and presentations.
Adapted from the popular business reality TV show Shark Tank, Fish Tank challenges students grades 6 to 12 to work together to find solutions to locally relevant problems. Students learn skills like problem solving, collaborating, report writing, and public speaking. Importantly, students also have opportunities to connect and build relationships with mentors in the community.
Fish Tank is made possible by sponsors including Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Okahara and Associates, and Guidestar Engineering, as well as support from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, County of Hawaiʻi, Rotary Club of Hilo, Big Island Engineers, and volunteers.
For more information about NexTech and the Fish Tank Competition, visit nextechhawaii.org/fishtank.