When he graduates from high school two years from now, Luke Jones is confident he’ll be headed to college to fuel a passion for a career in science. “I’m just torn right now between physics and computer science,” Jones said. In his first year at the Hawaii State Science & Engineering Fair, Jones was honored with multiple recognitions including 1st place in Physics and Astronomy for Senior Research, 3rd place for the Senior Research Overall Grand Award, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s 1st place public school project, and the Davis Young Scientist Award. The Kihei Charter sophomore qualified to travel in May to the Intel Science and Engineering Fair being held this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jones’ travel expense to the Hawaii competition was covered by the Maui Economic Development Board.
Jones’ award-winning science project was an attempt to test an alternate theory of the way people understand the universe. “I think that it is important to look at and test all angles of a scientific field, and then subsequently share our analysis of those angles with the rest of the scientific community,” he said. As a homeschooled student who first made connections with Kihei Charter faculty one to three times a week, Jones said he was exposed to project based learning and encouraged to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Luke’s father, Tim, took his son to a variety of public presentations by the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy where Luke met James “JD” Armstrong, a Maui Technology Education and Outreach Specialist. “Science just started to become tangible. I don’t know what it was but I just really started getting ‘geeked’ about it,” Jones said. He’s also attended a variety of MEDB STEMworks™ workshops and most recently the 2015 STEM Conference in Wailea. “This just really makes science real and a lot of fun.” When he graduates, Luke will be one of the first students to have completed his studies from kindergarten through 12th grade at Kihei Charter. His hobbies include video and board games, and he says he enjoys helping other students interested in science.