Big Island 8th grader’s glacier research gets noticed at national STEM competition

Big Island kid wins science contest using shave ice to measure global warming

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Big Island can boast that it’s home to one of the top STEM students in the nation.

Rylan Colbert is a 13-year-old eighth-grader and a budding scientist.

“You can never be done with science, because science is infinite and there’s always more science that can be done. I just think that’s a really cool prospect,” he said.

His cool science project got him into the top-tier of the nations premier science competition for young teenagers called Broadcom MASTERS.

“The Broadcom MASTERS is really looking at the talent, the STEM talent, of our young scientists and engineers from grade 6th through the eighth grade,” said Maya Ajmera, CEO of the Society for Science and the Public.

About 3,500 students entered the virtual science fair. Rylan calls his experiment IceQuakes. Using shaved ice, gravel and water he sought to measure how fast the worlds glaciers are melting.

“I could determine the glaciers and the stuff on top of glaciers will compact 0.77% faster every 1 degree Celsius the temperature goes up,” he said.

Judges put Ryland’s work in the top 30, giving him a shot at some of the more than $100,000 in cash prizes Broadcom awards for education.

“The Robert Wood Johnson prize gives a health prize. The Lemelson Foundation gives a prize on invention. There’s a prize from the Department of Defense on innovation,” Ajmera said.

Broadcom also sent the finalists swag.

“They gave us an iPad Pro, which is really cool, the 2020 iPad Pro, which is awesome,” Rylan said.

He didn’t win but he did make his mark, and he met 29 other kids who think like he thinks.

“It’s more than a competition. It’s a place to make friends and I have definitely had a lot of fun doing that,” he said.

Rylan is a student at Waiakea Intermediate who loves playing baseball. Now he’s on the science world’s radar as one of the brightest STEM students in the country.

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