Tag Archives: STEM

STEM gets a $6.8M boost from USA Funds

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UH President David Lassner, Sen. Michelle Kidani, USA Funds Executive VP Carol D'Amico, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, and Project Lead The Way Senior VP David Dimmett
Back on October 28, 2015, USA Funds announced a $4.6M grant to the University of Hawaii, to help build Hawaii's innovation economy, boost the STEM workforce pipeline and reverse the "brain drain" of talent leaving the state. Today's announcement included the $4.6M to UH and an additional $2.2M to the non-profit Project Lead the Way which provides project-based learning experiences for K–12 students and teachers across all 50 states. The grant to PLTW will help at least 48 Hawaii high schools implement programs in computer science, engineering or biomedical science. Also as a part of the initiative, Project Lead The Way will provide professional development support to teachers and work with local partners to ensure the materials and programs are culturally relevant. USA Funds’ grant of $4.6 million to the University of Hawaii Foundation will support several initiatives, including the following:
  • Develop models of statewide industry, government and higher education collaboration to determine current and future workforce needs.
  • Create a continuous academic pathway in STEM education.
  • Support economic development and high-quality job creation in innovation and STEM areas of the state’s economy through just-in-time workforce development.
  • Enhance Hawaii’s student information system to inform students and advisers of the most efficient education pathways, especially for STEM degrees.
  • Create best practices in statewide workforce and education data collection and integration to help drive decisions by policymakers, education leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Create a STEM Center for Excellence that will serve as a resource to sustain STEM-related activities across the state.
With a workforce development pipeline, STEM curriculum development and the data to assess our progress, the hope is that Hawaii will be able to be competitive in the high-wage and high-demand science, technology, math and engineering fields.

STEM Week

The Inaugural STEM Week Luncheon The inaugural STEM Week Awards were given out last week, celebrating the achievements of 14 high and middle schools in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). For the first time, diverse fields like VEX Robotics, FIRST Robotics, Science Olympiad, the Hawai‘i State Science & Engineering Fair, and CyberPatriot were recognized in a single awards ceremony. On hand was Hawaii's senior Senator, Daniel K. Inouye. In his keynote address, Senator Inouye recognized the importance of STEM and its contribution to the competitiveness of Hawaii’s students. He reflected on his humble public school upbringing and how, only in America, he could fight the stereotype of a Japanese-American during WWII to achieve his current position as the President pro tempore of the Senate. Inouye said in a statement: “I arrived home to Hawai‘i last night and was pleased that my first event was to participate in the STEM Week Awards Lunch. It warmed my heart to see bright young students and their committed teachers and principals. Hawai‘i has much to be proud of and to be hopeful about. We should not sell ourselves short. Our future is in good hands.” The inaugural STEM Week Awards also featured the first Daniel K. Inouye Award for Commitment to STEM Education, which went to Hawaiian Electric Company. The award is given to an individual or organization that demonstrated leadership in Hawaii's STEM educational initiatives by ensuring continued access to STEM programs statewide. As a bonus feature Doug Matsuoka caught me at the entrance to the STEM Week Luncheon and reversed the roles on me by asking me a few questions about this event.

6th Annual Hawaii FIRST LEGO League Championship

The 6th Annual Hawaii FIRST LEGO League Championships were held on Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena. The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) introduces younger students to real world engineering challenges by building LEGO based robots that complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. This year's theme was medical related with challenges simulating a rapid blood screening, artery stent, cardiac missions, brain missions, bionic eyes, etc. Teams must design, build, test and program an autonomous robot to accomplish the Challenge Mission on the playing field. The game is based on a point system and each team has three qualifying rounds. Each round is 2:30 minutes long. In the video students from Pauoa Elementary School program their robot to perform predefined tasks. Once activated the robot is autonomous, functioning without remote controls. Each team is allowed only two members at the playing field at a time although they can switch out by tagging one of their members. Aaron Dengler, science teacher at Punahou School told me that FLL is less about robotics and more about engineering and team work. Each of the robot kits include a controller, sensors, mechanics and power. Bringing it all together is an engineering task. In addition to the design, testing and performance, each team has to research the theme and do a presentation to a panel of judges. Months of planning and activities lead up to the FLL Championship. I was quite impressed with the enthusiasm each of these young teams demonstrated and felt reassured that this program is an excellent feeder into futures in science and technology.