Our Islands, Our Future

Hana High School science and natural resources teacher Paulo Burns says he and many of his students are visual learners, meaning that seeing is believing for them. So, when Burns and his students received 10 computer tablets, a projector, a laptop and a camera with a $5,000 Ke Alahele Education Fund grant, they were able to see what otherwise would be academic abstractions. “Science deals with teaching so many new vocabulary words and concepts that it is like teaching a foreign language,” he said. “If we don’t give our youth every tool at their fingertips to help them understand it, then many will give up easily and not pursue careers in science.”

Burns’ students used the new tablets to study the voyages of crews aboard Hawaiian canoes as they navigated across vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. “We wanted to provide students with tools of the 21st century to help them succeed in school,” he said. “We wanted to connect with Hawaiian culture through studying the canoe voyages and using modern computer tablets to blog questions to them. We wanted to make a Hawaiian compass at school to show the students that they will never be lost with the education they got at Hana School.” Burns said the tablets were successful in reaching his goals.

Burns said he believes it’s important for the community to support schools in the education of science, technology, engineering and math. “STEM is all around us in the real world, so it is critical that communities support it so that the next generation has the foundation to help solve the problems that we all face today,” Burns said. “We need to create problem-solvers that know how to use modern tools to come up with solutions.” Burns said he appreciates the Maui Economic Development Board and its Ke Alahele Education program. “MEDB was thoughtful to invest in the lives of our youth to help them succeed and create a better future.” The Ke Alahele Education Fund was established to support the growing need for students to gain proficiency in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in Maui County.