Our Islands, Our Future

A team of Molokai middle schoolers had different takes on what they most enjoyed about competing at the 2013 Maui Nui FIRST Lego League tournament. “It’s just really cool,” said Marianna Campos of the Molokai Wizard of Bots team. Teammate Kaitlin DeRouin said she liked building robots, and Taye Mowat said she wanted to see how other students built their robots. For Lana Domingo, a four-year Lego League veteran and previous winner said: “It’s awesome to win.”

No matter what the reason for competing, Wizard of Bots coach Jenn Whitted said the four girls are engaged and excited about science and math and school in general. “They are career focused. They are college focused,” she said. “They’ve really learned how to carry themselves and how to be confident in who they are and what they do.” Momi Afelin, a Molokai high school sophomore and former champion of robotics competition, served as a mentor to her younger sister, Kai’ina, and her team the Molokai Skywalkers from Kaunakakai Elementary School. “You might not walk away from here being an engineer, but you definitely will gain a lot of skills that you need for the rest of your life,” Afelin said. “I know I learned a lot of skills through robotics,” she added. Kimberly Svetin, President of Molokai Drugs, accompanied her 4th-grade son to his FIRST Lego League contest. “This teaches him stress management. All the kids are learning coping skills, and that’s awesome,” Svetin said.

The Carden Academy Mindreapers surpassed 15 teams to be crowned the overall champions of the 2013 tourney. They will represent Maui at the Dec. 7 state competition on Oahu along with the Seabury Hall Spartanbots and the Fruit Ninjas, an independent team of students. Sponsors of the local competition included Maui Economic Development Board with its Women in Technology and Ke Alahele Education Fund programs, Seabury Hall, Maui Electric Co., Friends of Hawaii Robotics and the Robotics Organizing Committee.