Our Islands, Our Future

A commitment to invest 60 minutes of time and energy into computer science has landed Iao Intermediate School a $10,000 prize and a chance to participate in an international campaign. The program is called Hour of Code and describes itself as a one-hour introduction designed to demystify computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics.

“It teaches the processes of thinking through problems and persevering to solve them,” said Steve Qunell, the Iao math and technology teacher who took the lead to apply for Hour of Code. Iao School participates in Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology Project program STEMworks™, which has been encouraging local schools to participate in Hour of Code. Iao School is the only campus in Hawaii chosen for the 2014 Computer Science Education Week program. “I was floored. I couldn’t believe it,” Qunell said in reaction to Hour of Code’s approval. “This is a fun event. I think everyone should be trying it.”

As this year’s data coordinator at Iao School, Qunell organized a plan that will allow for all 900 6th, 7th and 8th graders to participate in Hour of Code during their math classes. Students enrolled in technology courses will spend an additional 45 minutes in Hour of Code. Special education teachers have volunteered to continue an Hour of Code in their study skills classes, and faculty will use professional development time to engage in the program. Qunell has also reserved two computer labs for parent and community Code nights. “For our students, what we’re trying to do is make them college and career minded,” Qunell said. “All of us will have a chance to participate in Hour of Code and just improve our overall skills.” Qunell said he’s working with the Iao Math Department to identify needs that might be covered by the $10,000 prize. Some of the money may also be used for a Maker Lab and a Robotics Program.