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Lahaina students go high-tech at 2016 Hawaii STEM Conference

By BY CINDY SCHUMACHER - | May 12, 2016

“The MEDB WIT Hawaii STEM Conference attracts student teams from across the state to showcase and share their technical abilities and teamwork,” said Erin Thomas, Lahainaluna High School Career and Technical Education teacher. Pictured at the event are (from left): Thomas, freshmen Abraham Garcia-Veteran and Jaden Hogan, and junior Patrick Byng. PHOTO BY CINDY SCHUMACHER.

WAILEA – The Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Women in Technology Project (WIT), in partnership with the County of Maui, presented the seventh annual Hawaii STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Conference on May 6-7 at the Wailea Marriott Resort.

The conference empowers students and educators with first-hand exposure to advanced technologies, the latest software training and real-world challenges in the format of fun, hands-on STEM team presentations and competitions. This year, over 880 students, teachers and industry professionals attended, demonstrating and studying some of the most innovative global technologies.

The 2016 conference theme, “Download Knowledge, Upload Service,” emphasized the role the conference played in promoting and developing the skills of STEM students to become innovative thinkers. The two-day event, featuring 43 student breakout sessions, 16 teacher professional development breakout sessions, 15 STEM competitions, a formal awards banquet, and STEM exhibit presentations, also showcased how technology can be used to create a prosperous future for Hawaii and the world.

“STEM education has the power to impact all of us,” said Isla Young, MEDB’s K-12 STEM program director. “Through the years, we’ve seen first-hand how empowering our youth with STEM skills and opportunities can make a difference in their lives and in the career pathways they choose to pursue.”

A primary goal of the conference was to give MEDB’s WIT STEMworks AFTERschool Program participants, and others, the opportunity to inspire and learn from each other.

“I really enjoyed learning about and using the 3-D printer,” said Noa Bauchman, Lahaina Intermediate School eighth-grader. PHOTO BY CINDY SCHUMACHER.

“STEMworks is a multifaceted, hands-on program where students get to use the most current, high-end technologies in community service learning projects,” said Young. “During the STEMworks process, students learn how to develop an industry-partner relationship, provide an actual deliverable, and maintain an ongoing solution for the future.”

Lahainaluna High School, a STEMworks school, takes pride in creating tangible products to measure student talent. Throughout the year, they create film graphics, digital art, robotics programming, music, audio and technical drawings.

“We allow students to showcase their educational experience in a technical presentation as opposed to just a written exam,” said Erin Thomas, Lahainaluna Career and Technical Education teacher. “This allows all students to thrive and is a springboard to a successful career, even while they are still in high school.”

“Our presentation at the 2016 Hawaii STEM Conference was a video of the event itself,” said Abraham Garcia-Beteran, Lahainaluna ninth-grader. “This year, through our STEM program, I learned how to handle the camera, how to record quality audio and how to use editing programs like Final Cut.”

“I helped make the three-minute conference video that was submitted to the judges,” said Jaden Hogan, Lahainaluna freshman. “I didn’t know anything about cameras until I joined the STEMworks AFTERschool Program. It was a great school year. Among other projects, I interviewed teachers and students to find out what they felt about how school systems work.”

Eddymar Cabading, Lahaina Intermediate School eighth-grader, and his teammates presented the school’s Ke Ali’i Broadcasting and Technology Program. “We showcased various videos that we created for ‘HIKO NO,’ PBS Hawaii’s first statewide student news broadcast, that is written, hosted, produced and edited by students,” he explained.

“This year, we worked together as a team, all with different jobs, to make our daily school broadcast and our community videos the best they could be. We are so thankful for MEDB’s WIT STEMworks program, without which we wouldn’t have the amazing equipment to work with.”

“STEMworks enables our students to solve community problems using the high-end equipment,” said Tom Norton, Lahaina Intermediate School’s technology coordinator. “So far this year, students have had opportunities to take apart and reassemble PCs, install a Linux-based operating system, install and create a Minecraft server, use CAD software, print with a 3-D printer, learn some coding techniques, work with Photoshop and After Effects, create robots and work with Geographical Information Systems.”

“I really enjoyed learning about and using the 3-D printer,” said Noa Bauchman, Lahaina Intermediate eighth-grader. “It can be temperamental. I had to learn how to balance and reset it,” he explained. “We used 3-D design software on the computer to make the desired printed design, which is made with tools inside the software. Then, we download it onto an SD card. Next, we put it inside the printer, download it, and then run the program on the printer. The printer melts the plastic and builds the creation layer by layer.”

“I helped make the miniature character figurines, the essential props for the Pro Arts Theater play ‘And Then There Were None,’ which was really special,” Bauchman said. “Plus, other projects like learning how to code, how to design software for a drone and much more have all been great.”

Norton added, “I am grateful to MEDB’s WIT for their support throughout the year and for putting on the annual STEM Conference. It allows so many schools and industry professionals to come together to discuss ideas on technology and how we can apply it practically and positively for our youth, and for Hawaii.”

“I’m especially proud to report that Lahaina Intermediate students Anjanette Aveno, Jayelyn Finn-Imamoto, Akira Foreman and Marichris Guerrero won an honorable mention at the STEM Conference in a cybersecurity competition,” exclaimed Norton. “The NSA (National Security Agency) representative, Navy Captain Cliff Bean, NSA Hawaii, presented the school with an award and invited the students to attend Cyper Camp during the summer. This award is most impressive, because all their competitors were high school students!”