Our Islands, Our Future

Every year, teachers, industry professionals, and hundreds of students from across the state converge at the Hawaii Convention Center to participate in an elaborate celebration of all things STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). The conference is sponsored by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) STEMworks™ program. However, the 2020 Hawaii STEM Conference live event was cancelled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many other events in the community.

“In the days following the cancellation, teachers and students expressed their disappointment at missing this opportunity for professional development and engagement with industry leaders,” said Katie Taladay, STEMworks™ Program Manager. “The STEMworks team began compiling opportunities to bring highlights from the annual meeting to life virtually. Therefore, on May 7-9, for the first time ever, the Hawaii STEM Conference will be moving to an online platform using a combination of live Zoom sessions and recorded videos.”

Students, teachers, and industry professionals from across Maui and the state will have the opportunity to participate in a keynote talk from Microsoft, live training sessions on Artificial Intelligence, Geospatial Information Systems, and more. There will also be a STEM Industry Playground Video Library to learn about workplace needs and opportunities, live Stemmy Awards for competition winners, and a two-day Virtual Hackathon in partnership with BizzyB and Malama Maunalua.

The fast-paced Hackathon is an Oyster Cage Design Challenge, where students will learn about Malama Maunalua’s mission to help improve water quality in their ahupuaa by growing oysters to filter out water pollutants. Teams of 3-5 students will meet in virtual breakout rooms under the guidance of mentors to research and discuss their oyster cage design. Using the BizzyB platform to take their product from idea to market, students will pitch their product in a virtual showcase event to a team of judges. The top three winners plus all participants will receive Microsoft gifts. In addition, the first-place winners will have the opportunity to prototype and test their design in real life. Taladay added, “The conference is free to STEMworks teachers, mentors, and students. For students without access to a device, STEMworks will make iPads available through our Lending Library.”

Our first virtual conference will support collaborations and mentorships among students and the STEM community, even after the conference ends.

Katie Taladay, STEMworks™ Program Manager