Maui Business

VEX Robotics Receives Grant From Ke Alahele Fund

March 10, 2016, 9:18 AM HST
* Updated March 10, 9:19 AM
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Students at Kamali‘i Elementary work on building their VEX robot. Funds from a recent MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund grant helped to establish the school’s new robotics club. According to teacher Peter Hansen, the initial club will consist of approximately 25 fourth and fifth grade boys and girls with plans to eventually expand to third graders and an optimal number of 35 team members. However, the entire Kamalii Elementary school population will positively benefit from having this program as the team will conduct demonstrations for all students (K–5) and boost morale and school spirit by participating in island-wide (and eventually statewide) tournaments. MEDB photo.

Students at Kamali‘i Elementary work on building their VEX robot. Funds from a recent MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund grant helped to establish the school’s new robotics club. According to teacher Peter Hansen, the initial club will consist of approximately 25 fourth and fifth grade boys and girls with plans to eventually expand to third graders and an optimal number of 35 team members. However, the entire Kamali‘i Elementary school population will positively benefit from having this program as the team will conduct demonstrations for all students (K–5) and boost morale and school spirit by participating in island-wide (and eventually statewide) tournaments. MEDB photo.

Maui Economic Development Board and numerous community stakeholders have been empowering students in Maui County and statewide through the MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund for nearly a decade.

The MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund is a grant program that encourages pathways to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

One of the popular programs supported by the fund is VEX robotics, an international program that offers intermediate and high school students the experience of solving real-world problems by applying STEM skills.

MEDB was one of the first and continues to be a major funder of VEX robotics in Hawai‘i.

To date, grants totaling over $151,700 have been awarded by MEDB to support VEX robotics programs in Maui County. The latest recipients during this 2015-2016 school year were:

  • Baldwin High School – $5,000
  • Kamali‘i Elementary School – $3,000
  • King Kekaulike High School – $4,940
  • Lahaina Intermediate School – $1,921
  • Lahainaluna High School – $2,000
  • Lokelani Intermediate School – $5,000
  • Maui High School – $4,000
  • Maui Preparatory Academy – $3,615
  • Maui Waena Intermediate School – $3,300
  • Moloka‘i Middle School – $5,000
  • Pukalani Elementary School – $3,010
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“VEX capitalizes on young people’s fascination with robots by helping them experience the excitement of learning on their own, create something meaningful, and use reading, writing, critical thinking, science, and technology to solve real world problems,” said Don Suzuki, one of the primary advisors for the Maui Waena robotics team.

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“In addition to offering students experiences in real-world STEM applications, robotics team members also learn life-long problem-solving, team-building, communication, organization, and leadership skills,” said Gary Suter, Baldwin High School teacher and facilitator of the school’s robotics team.

Recent VEX grant recipients—Baldwin High School, King Kekaulike High, Maui High School, Maui Waena Intermediate, Lahaina Intermediate School, Kamali‘i Elementary and Lokelani Intermediate—used the funds for VEX robotics competitions and/or to purchase needed program supplies.

Lahainaluna High requested funds to start a new VEX IQ robotics program at Princess Nahienaena Elementary.

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Through designing and programming robots, students begin to comprehend how to use planning, teamwork, engineering, science and math to accomplish creative projects and learn about the world. In doing so, they learn time and project management, as well as leadership and organizational skills.

“Robotics combines engineering, teamwork and fun; and offers a superb glimpse into the real world of STEM careers,” said Jeanne Skog, MEDB president and CEO. “These grants are made possible because of the continuing investment by our community in STEM education–including VEX–through the our education fund.”

The 2016 MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund Benefit Dinner & Auction will be held on Saturday, Aug. 20, at The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

For more information about the MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund and the annual dinner and auction in August, call 875-2300 or visit www.medb.org.

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