Our Islands, Our Future

A Ke Alahele Education Fund grant for Montessori School of Maui was intended to support its engineering and robotics programs plus help provide a practical learning environment for students to enhance their skills in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM. But it went beyond that, according to Thomas Daubert, the school’s director of development. “In its first year, our after-school Robotics and Engineering studios have provided a fun learning environment for up to 16 students each session,” he said. “The students came away with increased skill development and a new way to perceive themselves and the physical world around them,” Daubert said.

At Montessori, students work in teams to learn the mechanics of simple machines, basic electronic circuits, polarity, magnetism and more. Jason Verkaart, the Robotics studio coordinator, is also a parent of a student at the school. Each session culminates in a fun competitive race or game using the vehicles and systems constructed throughout a course. “Our students have become very excited about seeing the physical application of math, engineering and science coursework and have personally experienced the enthusiasm of a parent working within his profession,” Daubert said.

Daubert said the program was a good fit for a Montessori school with its strong emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning. “As a Montessori school, on a daily basis, we work to develop the interests of each unique student through practical collaborative work, which is the basis for a successful Robotics program. This is a great fit for our school, and we look forward to finding even greater connective points between this after-school studio and our core curriculum activities in the coming year.” MEDB established the Ke Alahele Education Fund to power up STEM Education in Maui County. This year’s Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner and Auction will be held Aug. 23 at the Grand Wailea Resort. Call 875-2300, or