Our Islands, Our Future

Molokai Middle School students haven’t been able to stay quiet about their experiences at the 2015 Hawaii STEM Conference. “They all loved doing hands-on things and couldn’t stop talking about it,” said 7th-grade teacher Kaho’iwai Kawaa, referring to her team of students traveling from Molokai to Maui for the 6th annual Hawaii STEM Conference held April 17-19 at the Wailea Marriott. “I believe this year’s conference positively impacted each and every one of our students,” Kawaa said. Her husband, Kaeo, the 8th-grade STEM teacher at Molokai Middle, agreed. “My students are showing greater interest in STEM as we continue each new year in growing and expanding what our program offers,” Mr. Kawaa said.

Led by team Captain Evelyn Haase, the Molokai Middle School contingent created a display that outlined the activities the students have engaged in during this school year from STEM Family Nights to robotics competition to experiments in science and math. “Everything we do is related to STEM and it’s a lot of fun,” Haase said. Her classmate, 8th-grader Cameryn Kahalewai said she enjoyed interacting with other students from around the state at the conference. “I got to become friends with people who enjoy STEM like me. They’re very passionate,” Kahalewai said, adding that the activities have helped her with skills in team building and leadership.

Mrs. Kawaa said she saw her students’ eyes light up after each of the conference keynote speakers delivered their addresses. “Hands down, Titan was our favorite,” she said, referring to Titan Gilroy, a St. Anthony High School graduate who has created a successful design and fabrication company with client contracts including NASA, SpaceX, and Tesla, as well as producing a T.V. show advocating for U.S. manufacturing. His pathway to success came after early challenges that led to incarceration. “He’s an example for all young men and women who struggle with making the right choices in and out of school,” Kawaa said.

The 2015 Hawaii STEM Conference, presented by Maui Economic Development Board, drew more than 500 attendees from around the state. Both students and teachers explored the benefits of STEM learning and showcased some of their best programs and projects.