Our Islands, Our Future

Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Ke Alahele Education Fund grantee, the Lihikai Elementary School Surferbots in Kahului, applied their grant towards the VEX IQ Robotics challenge events, purchasing parts and registration fees. “This program allows students the opportunity to apply STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classroom concepts to a technological product,” said Lihikai teacher, Kelly Imada. “It also introduces and reinforces the engineering design process through the challenges of competing with other teams. Our Lihikai robotics program builds interest for students in STEM subjects as they progress through elementary, intermediate, and high-school.”

“Thanks to MEDB, this was the Surferbots’ most successful year,” said Imada. “Our two teams competed in tournaments at Lahainaluna High School and the Valley Isle Tournaments. We were also honored with the Judge’s Award at the Baldwin High School Vex IQ Tournament.”

The Surferbots had fifteen members on two teams and both qualified for State competition at the Hawaii Convention Center. Team A qualified through the skills challenge and made it into the top 16 going to the elimination matches at the 2018 Hawaii State VEX IQ Tournament. Team B qualified by winning the Excellence Award at the Valley Isle Tournament in December and were awarded the Think Award in the State VEX IQ Tournament.

“In addition to building robots and competing, the students learn problem-solving skills, teamwork, responsibility, and commitment,” Imada said. “We are very grateful to the Ke Alahele donors. Without their support we would not be able to provide these valuable experiences in robotics to our students.” The Surferbots agreed, “Robotics helped us understand more about technology and working hard to reach a goal step by step, retrying and improving. Robotics taught us that if you want to achieve something, it takes trial and error, and working together as a team.”

On Saturday, August 25, 2018, MEDB will hold their annual Ke Alahele Education Fund Benefit Dinner & Auction at the Grand Wailea Resort to celebrate the STEM achievements of students in Maui County and statewide. For more information call (808) 875-2300 or email

Robotics helped me understand more about technology and working hard to reach a goal. I feel great about being on this team because I get to learn with others.

Surferbot Team Member, Lihikai Elementary School