Our Islands, Our Future

Recently, through Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) STEMworks™ program, students from Lokelani Intermediate, Maui Waena, Iao Intermediate, and Baldwin High School had a unique opportunity to delve into the world of artificial intelligence (AI). A total of 160 students from these Maui schools participated in a hands-on, in-person AI training experience. The mission of STEMworks is to provide students and teachers with resources, inspiration, and tools that empower them to improve their community and the world.

“The training was part of the STEMworks AI camps, designed to nurture creativity and develop AI skills among young leaders,” said Lalaine Passion, STEMworks Program Specialist. “These camps offer students a chance to bring their own books, stories, comics, and business ideas to life using the power of AI. Students are encouraged to experiment, create, and think critically about the role of AI in various fields.” 

Born and raised on Maui, Gabriel Yanagihara, an experienced educator with a background in computer science, creative media and video game design, helped the students understand the fascinating possibilities of AI. “Our journey in blending AI with creative writing has been nothing short of magical,” Yanagihara explained. “As an educator, it’s thrilling to see how technologies like ChatGPT can enhance learning, ignite imagination, and bring student creations to life in the most enchanting ways. In a fun and educational setting, we’re equipping students with the skills and confidence to navigate the digital world. In our class every student is a storyteller, every story a gateway to new worlds, and every AI-generated illustration a bridge between imagination and reality.”

Yanagihara’s guidance, expertise and contributions were instrumental in making the AI camp a success. His initiative marks a significant step in introducing young minds to the possibilities of AI and its role in shaping the future. “These events are a perfect introduction for beginners who want to explore the power of AI in a supportive environment,” he added, “Students can discover how AI tools can enhance their problem-solving skills and revolutionize the way they approach design challenges. In a world where education constantly evolves with technology, it’s important to find innovative ways to nurture creativity.”

Through AI-powered illustration tools, my students have embarked on a journey transforming imaginative narratives into vivid and tangible experiences. Gabriel Yanagihara, STEM educator