Our Islands, Our Future

Pukalani teachers and students love STEMPukalani Elementary School was most fortunate to have received two Ke Alahele Education Fund grants from Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), one for the students and one for the teachers. The first funding gave the Pukalani School Imagineers Robotics team the means to travel to Oahu to compete in the Hawaii State Elementary VEX Championship in January of this year. “The VEX competition experience was priceless for the student’s STEM (science, technology, engineering mathematics) curriculum,” said Debbie Hisashima, Pukalani Academic Coach and STEMworks™ AFTERschool Coordinator. “What the students enjoyed most was meeting up with other teams, seeing their drive and motivation, and all of the possibilities that are out there as they advance in age.”

Pukalani 5th grader Kamaha`o Akana explained, “I learned so much from the Oahu Waialua Robotics Team before the start of competition. Watching the Waialua students work and seeing their drive and motivation was the greatest lesson of all. They kept on trying to adjust without giving up– which was helpful for us to notice when we ran into our own obstacles at the competition. We adapted quickly and tried our best.”

Robotics team member Kayden Volner added, “I enjoyed watching how the robots at the state level functioned. Our team observed different designs and changed our robot to be more efficient so that it would be competitive at the Create U.S. VEX National Championships. Most importantly, I learned that working together will get the job done.”

Hisashima said, “The second Pukalani School grant was written for our afterschool STEMworks™ teachers to attend the Hawaii State STEM conference on Oahu. It was the teachers turn to learn and we were really excited!  Six of us participated in various STEM-related classes, which allowed us to network with other teachers from around the state.  Three of our teachers ran mini-STEM sessions in the STEMworks™ Playground and gained valuable presentation skills in the process. With the funding from MEDB, our STEM teachers were able to meet with industry leaders and take new ideas back to our campus and our children.”

“Join us Saturday, August 25, for our annual Ke Alahele Education Fund Benefit Dinner & Auction at the Grand Wailea Resort. The Fund provides tools for our students and training for our teachers, investments that will make a difference in our community.” For more information call (808) 875-2300 or email

Leslie Wilkins MEDB President and CEO