The Schools of the Future initiative started in 2008 and is sponsored by the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and the Hawaii Community Foundation. This was the first Schools of the Future conference held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and featured the world-renown speaker Sir Ken Robinson. I got a chance to attend a couple of the break out sessions including Mark Hines and Bob McIntosh of Mid-Pacific Institute about Mobile Technologies in the Classroom. They provided a very thought provoking presentation about the near ubiquitous presence of mobile devices and the implications in the classroom. The mobile device is no longer just a phone but a computer and a gateway, able to link us to information, applications and our community. Their presentation emphasized how these devices cannot be ignored or disallowed in the classroom. The inevitability is that the mobile device is a tool and best understood by embracing its use. Their presentation is available on the Future Schools site along with other resources from the community that formed around the Schools of the Future initiative. In the afternoon, I got a chance to a hear Mid Pacific Institute teachers give examples of project-based learning in a presentation called: Embracing Change in the 21st Century, that got implemented in classes ranging from pre-school, elementary, middle to high school. Principal Edna Hussey did a timely job posting her overview of the presentations to the MPI blog. In one class example, Alison Ashford challenged her environmental studies high school students to build a layer in Google Earth showing the trees located around campus. You can try the resulting layer by downloading the .kmz file which automatically launches Google Earth. You can find more info here. I also found it interesting how the organizers, the Hawaii Community Foundation, incorporated graphic recording into the presentations. They invited Nick Payne from England to do a graphic recording of each of the presentations in this breakout room. You can view the rendition of Nick's recordings here. Judging from the interest shown by the educators there was an overwhelming level of support for the visual presentation. It's a great way to capture the essence of the presentation and offer a means to perpetuate it through the organization. I've seen the technique work first hand at the place I work. Ongoing interaction of the Schools of the Future community continues on the Ning site at Future Schools. It is quite encouraging to see such dedicated, passionate teachers committed to education and the innovative process. Judging from the interaction the site, there is a groundswell of activity taking place in the schools.
The Hawaii Macintosh and Apple User Society (or HMAUS) is quite an active group bringing workshops and presentations that run the gamut from web analytics to photography. I've been a board member of HMAUS for about 3 months now and I can say if there is anything this group likes to obsess about (besides all things Apple) it's education. All of their activities revolve around sharing topics of interest with the community. And their gratification comes from that community continuing to ask for more. On Thursday, Sept. 9th at 6pm, HMAUS presents a hands-on workshop on how to add Google Analytics code to your website. Marco Morawec, a Senior Research Associate at Kamehameha Schools will conduct the workshop. Marco did an earlier workshop on Aug 26 introducing the topic of Google Analytics and this is a follow on. In this upcoming session Marco will help you brainstorm some measurable goals for your site, then insert the code and see where and how the data will be displayed. This is hands on and you are encouraged to bring your laptop so you can DIY and see how it works. There is a nominal $5 charge at the door and you need to sign up here to guaranty your spot. Then on Saturday, Sept 11, at 9am, HMAUS presents Joe Kissell, who will demonstrate iChat Theater for sharing presentations, videos, pictures and computer screens, from his home half way around the world in Paris, France! Joe will be live from Paris, a 12 hours time zone difference. Joe is also the Senior Editor of Tidbits magazine, one of the longest running online publications. This presentation is free and open to the public. If you are interesting in iChat Theater and MobileMe this is the place to be. Both presentations, Google Analytics on Sept 9th and iChat on Sept 11th will take place at ING Direct, 1958 Kalakaua Avenue Waikiki. Hope to see you all there.
Maybe I would have been a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon if summer sessions like this were available back in my day. Pacific Center for Environmental Studies (PaCES) is a six-week intensive course for high school juniors and seniors held at Windward Community College. This past Tuesday, I had a chance to spend an hour observing the class as they processed DNA samples. David Krupp and Rob Hutchison conduct the program that included field trips to Coconut Island, collecting water samples around coral reefs and studying genomics. The program is concludes with a symposium where students present their research findings. David and Rob explain that the course is not about lectures and book readings. It's about problem solving and creative thinking. The exercise I saw had the students taking their DNA samples, sourced originally from water around healthy coral and stressed coral, and extracting key segments. The DNA was mixed with a marker solution to be then placed in a gel electrophoresis device. The photo above shows the DNA separated out in the gel, based on the relative weigh density of the DNA. Pretty cool stuff. The program consists of about 20-25 students along with mentors from previous years. Both David and Rob will be joining us on the radio (KIPO 89.3FM) this coming Wed. July 7th at which time we'll get to talk to them in more detail about the program, what students learn from it and how in some cases is pivotal in setting a future course for these students. Hope you will join us in the conversation.
Rather quietly, the Kaiwo Maru slipped into Honolulu Harbor just returning from a 150 year Anniversary celebration in San Francisco. The Kaiwo Maru is a modern day replica of the Kanrin Maru sailing vessel that made the first historic all-Japanese trans-Pacific voyage from Toyko to San Francisco back in 1860. It was at a time when Japan was opening up to foreign trade and influence. Interestingly, there is a NHK Taiga drama series currently running on KIKU-TV about this period called Ryomaden. In the series, Ryoma Sakamoto and Katsu Kaishu play pivotal roles in the creation of the Japanese Navy. Katsu Kaishu was in fact the Captain of the Kanrin Maru back in 1860 that brought the Japanese delegation to San Francisco. The 150 year celebration marks a long relationship between Japan and the U.S. although tumultuous at times (WWII and Pearl Harbor) has resulted in economic partnerships and a strong Japanese-American community. It is interesting to note that Hawaii played a role in the original 1860 voyage of the Kanrin Maru as Honolulu was the stopover point going to and returning from San Francisco. I can only imagine what the meeting was like between Katsu Kaishu and King Kamehameha IV. Visiting the Kaiwo Maru was quite a treat. Having been to several U.S. Navy vessels, it was a pleasure to experience (albeit short) a training vessel which is part of the Japan's National Institute for Sea Training. Although traditional in appearance, the Kaiwo Maru is quite technologically equipped. The ship runs on diesel engines while close to port but utilizes it's 4-masted sails when on the open ocean. Typical speed on the open ocean is 11 knots. The ship was fully equipped with radar, sonar, navigation, onboard electric power and satellite communications. On this voyage the crew consisted of 92 cadets in training (84 men and 8 women) and ship crew of 64, totaling 156. The 92 cadets are part of a multi-year training program that prepares them for a career serving commercial ships, like freighters, tankers and barges in the Japanese Merchant Marines. The above photo shows the route the Kaiwo Maru is on, from Tokyo to San Francisco and then to Honolulu. The ship leave dock tomorrow, May 23rd on its way back to Tokyo. Capt. Makoto Inui told me that training on the Kaiwo Maru helped to instill the heart and soul of Japanese maritime into the students. The Kaiwo Maru along with the Nippon Maru represent the traditional sailing vessels of the 1860's. Students rotate through the other more modern ships in the NIST fleet including the Taisei Maru, Ginga Maru and Seium Maru. Some of the uniquely Japanese things I noticed on the ship was this huge rice cooker. Right next to this cooker was another one similar in size for miso soup, which probably accompanies every meal. The fry cooker was also more hibachi style than the flat grilling surfaces I've seen in the Navy ships. I was also a little surprised to see this vending machine. I asked the First Officer who refills this when it runs out and he told me it was him. Another thing you won't see on any US vessel are these huge fudo or tubs for bathing. They are reminiscent of the public bath houses in Japan where the fudo is not a solitary place but one of community. The showers were the sit down type and if you notice the mirrors are about 3 feet off the ground. You can see more photos in my Flickr set for the Kaiwo Maru. One scene which I will unfortunately miss is on departure. All the crew members will climb the mast, the tallest being 175 feet. They stand on the ropes, suspended from the mast frames and in unison bid farewell to everyone at the port. First Office Iwasaki told me that it is not for those with a fear of heights. From what I saw on the cadet video, commemorating their voyage, they do this feat quite fearlessly, and barefoot to. I wish the crew of the Kaiwo Maru all the best on a safe trip back to Tokyo.
Graffiti art or street art as I like to refer to these pieces, stirs feelings that range from awe to disgust in those that view it. Born out of the street punk movement dating back to the late 70's and early 80's in the subways of New York City, this was a statement by rebellious youth. Personally I don't condone the defacement of public or private property by illegal graphic expressions but on some occasions I am truly amazed at the artistry. So when I saw these pieces at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, I was quite captivated. As timing would have it, the two artists responsible for this masterpiece (and one right around the corner) were just finishing up, Prime (on the right) and Estria (on the left). I half expected them to grab their spray cans and run as I approached but this was obviously a commissioned work. Prime holds classes at places like Palama Settlement to teach youth art technique and appreciation, mentoring and leadership development. The artist collective known as 808Urban works with kids in underserved areas like Kalihi. In addition to teaching art they work with communities to create mural art, the legitimized version of street graffiti. I've seen their work in various places like the Palama Settlement and a recent mural at Kokua Foods. Checking out Estria's Flickr site, he's got all kinds of work going on in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of it revolves around bringing graffiti artists together to showcase their work and to collectively work on murals like the Four Guardians in Oakland. It's very impressive, in-your-face, vibrant, "happy to be alive" expressions of creativity.
This year's VEX Robotics Competition, held on Dec 4-5, involved the clearing of balls from one side of the field onto the other. Opponents needed to build robots that could pick up nerf size soccer balls and footballs and either dump them into the opponents area, shove them through a small window or throw them over the side. It was great to watch the strategy of the game and the thought that goes into designing the robots. All the teams participating in the 2009 challenge get the same VEX kit and instructions on the game objectives. This year's field included 90+ teams most from Hawaii but several from China and the US mainland. This video was particularly interesting as it clearly showcases the objectives for the challenge. The teams challenging each other are Farrington/McKinley (Blue Team) and Bellarmine College Prep (Red Team). The first 30 seconds is an autonomous period. The robot functions on its own, based on preprogrammed instruction. The goal is to get as many balls over to the opponents area as possible. The video starts off in the Bellarmine field and later moves over to the Farrington/McKinley side. Pay close attention to the Bellarmine design. Their robots have unique qualities. The robot closest to the camera can fling the balls from the basket. Very useful to minimize the balls falling out of the basket back onto your side. It also efficiently picks up balls by drawing them into the basket. The other robot on the far side is made for defense, able to block the opponent's robot from dropping balls on your side. During the autonomous period they are able to unload a lot of balls. During the next phase the robots are controlled by operators. Notice how quickly the Bellarmine team scoops balls and clears their area. It was nearly empty when I decided to move over the view the Farrington/McKinley side. To the credit of the Farrington/McKinley team they gave it an awesome try but the McKinley robot ran into technical difficulty and froze. It was a lopsided victory for Team Bellarmine, who went on to sweep the championship. Of course it is all not about winning the competition. A lot of studies, teamwork, strategy, presentation skill and execution goes into the VEX competition. There were teams as young at 8-9 year olds from China, middle school kids from Pearl City Highlands, high schoolers and the Bellarmine team (** Note: the Bellarmine team members are all high schoolers as well) who had parents/mentors that work at NASA Ames Research. All in all a very fun and exciting event to witness. Congratulations to all the teams that participated. Excellence awards went to McKinley and Pearl City Highlands; Tournament Finalists when to Honoka`a and Waiakea High Schools. You can see the full results here. I am looking forward to next year's challenge.
This week of Thanksgiving is special for a number of reasons. Family and friends are always always top of mind but it is a time to take stock of the goodness that has come your way in 2009. It is also the start of the Makahiki season and a time to rejoice in rejuvenation of the land as the weather cools and the life giving rains green the islands. One of the things I felt very thankful for this week is having the opportunity to accompany the crew of the voyaging canoe Hokule`a on one of its training runs. It was a short run from Sand Island where the Hokule`a is docked out into the Pacific Ocean several miles south of Honolulu. Although the voyage was short, it gave me a sense of the strength and fortitude it took for the early Hawaiian voyagers to venture across the vast ocean. Once out on the ocean you immediately feel how small the canoe is. There is no sheltered cabin to speak of and sleeping quarters are just a small area in the hull protected by a flap of canvas. If you are not sleeping you are out on the deck in the raw elements of the ocean, winds, sun, rain and whatever nature throws your way. Extended trips on a traditional canoe like the Hokule`a are only for the most hardy. As the sun set, we were blessed with a clear sky filled with stars. The crew gave a lesson in star navigation as the northeasterly trade winds kept the Hokule`a in constant motion. Hokupa`a, the North Star was precisely 21 degrees above the horizon. You can always tell what latitude you are in by charting Hokupa`a, as long as you are in the northern hemisphere. While out on the ocean you are treated to sights not common on land. We were visited by this Hawaiian Booby or `A as it stayed with us for several minutes flying back and forth wanting to land on our sails. The amazing thing is the `A normally lives in remote areas in sea cliffs. Since we were still south of Honolulu with the lights of Waikiki in constant view this Hawaiian Booby must have come a far way, perhaps living somewhere near Diamond Head or further east near Koko Head. With the moon in the background it was an amazing sight. The Hokule`a and it's crew are preparing for the World Wide Voyage starting in 2011. This practice run was one of many to train new crew members. In 2010 the Hokule`a goes into dry dock for major renovation and refitting for the upcoming long voyage. As I look back on 2009, this experience will be one I will always remember. Mahalo to Mei-Jeanne Watson and Nainoa Thompson for making this possible.
Update 9/19/09: The Discovery Channel website has since updated their Native Hawaiian Snail picture with an actual Achatinella photo. While researching news items for Bytemarks Cafe I came across this story on the Discovery website about rats devastating the Native Hawaiian snail population. Interesting story but I was taken aback by this photo supposedly depicting one of our native snail species. The snail in the photo is of the specie: Achatina fulica originally from East Africa, now common in Hawaii. These varieties can grow quite large and can quickly devour a home garden. The adult female carries hundreds of eggs allowing it to proliferate in Hawaii's tropical climate. During the wet winter season is when the African snail populations explode. Rats and African snails have coexisted in Hawaii for many generations and I don't detect any decrease in these snail populations due to rats. On the other hand the Native Hawaiian tree snails or Achatinella live exclusively in the native forests primarily feeding on a native fungus living on the leaves of the ohia or kopiko. This specialized diet keeps the Achatinella inexorably linked to the native forest. It takes about 7 years to reach reproductive maturity. At this point they will bear one keiki (baby) snail per year. Without any natural predators the Achatinella never adapted mechanisms against external threats as devastating as rats. I did contact the Discovery.com web team (via email) to point out their error. I got this message in reply from Viewer-Relations:
"We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write us and for bringing this matter to our attention. Please know that we will take your comments under advisement."As you can see the site has yet to be corrected. Of course I do this with the hope that accurate information about Hawaii is portrayed, especially as it pertains to our people, places and native ecosystem. Here's to hoping it gets fixed soon.
A couple of Friday's ago, while I was standing in line at the Empty Bowl fundraiser for Hawaii Potter's Guild at Art at Mark's Garage, Lesa Griffith comes up to me and hands me this flyer. I was already in sensory overload with my bowl in had, Mochi on her leash, people everywhere and me trying to find the soup line. I had about 5 seconds to look over the flyer and ask Lesa what Wikipedia had to do with Art (and the Honolulu Academy of Arts)? I remember her saying, "look at the flyer" before disappearing. That is typically how I find out about things. Luck for me, I crumpled the flyer and stuck it in my pocket. At home I looked at it more discerningly and noticed the Flickr url for the Wikipedia Loves Art group. There is also a detailed posting of the rules for the scavenger hunt on Wikipedia. I also contacted Lesa and asked if she wanted to send someone to our show, Bytemarks Cafe, to talk about the event that ran Feb. 14, 15 and 27. The lovely Sabrina Valezquez joined us to give us the details for the event. So fast forward to today (2/15) and I thought I would check out the photos posted to Flickr of the art pieces. If you go to the group and follow the tag cloud you can see the photos posted for HAA (Honolulu Academy of Arts) or simply click here. Looks like they now have a few few shooters but could use a few more. Either that or they are slowing uploading their photos to Flickr. I know how that is. There is one more day on Feb 27th to continue the game. Also wanted to mention an upcoming workshop that fellow geek Ryan Ozawa and I are doing at Kapiolani Community College this coming next two Saturdays, Feb 21st and Feb 28th. It is a basic workshop to establish your online presence. Those of you reading this blog are already familiar with the social media tools like blogs, Google docs, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, etc. This workshop is gear to those wanting to get on but due to time and inclination have not yet done so. We are going to help kickstart that process. If you know of anyone interested in participating in this workshop please send them our way. The price is reasonable due to the generosity of the High Tech Development Corp.
The VEX competition is a relatively new program in Hawaii. It's an intermediary program between the Lego League and First Robotics and offers it participants continued involvement with robotics initiated first by Lego League and building up to the more rigorous First Robotics competition. This competition took place this past weekend at the Honolulu Convention Center featured teams from Hawaii, China and the Mainland. The VEX robots are constructed using standard materials that conform to a specific size. Each design can be customized by each team although the materials used must strictly adhere to the program rules. The goal for the robot is to grab these cubes and drop them into the clear shoot. Points are distributed based on how many cubes you drop in a shoot and which teams cube is on the top of the shoot. Robots are not supposed to bump opponents from trying to make the drop but because of the close quarters it almost unavoidable. The bouts are fast, only lasting a few minutes. If you watch this video you can see how the robot picks up 3 cubes and proceeds to drop them into each shoot. There's a lot of design that goes into picking up, holding and then dropping the cubes. In this match the Hong Kong team was challenging McKinley High School in yellow. McKinley lost this round by just one point. Here are some of the photos from the event.