Maui Business

7th Hawai‘i STEM Conference Slated for May 6 & 7

April 19, 2016, 2:49 PM HST
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Conference Instructor Marybeth Baldwin assists teachers Lila Parong (Prince Jonah Kalanianoaole Elementary & Intermediate School) with Tourbuilder, a software program during one of the teacher professional development workshops. Courtesy photo.

2015 Hawai‘i STEM Conference Instructor Marybeth Baldwin assists teachers Lila Parong with Tourbuilder software during a professional development workshop. Courtesy photo.

The Maui County Council has proclaimed the week of May 2 “Hawai‘i STEM Education Week,” in recognition of the 7th Annual Hawai‘i STEM Conference, which will take place on May 6 and 7.

Held at the Wailea Marriott Resort, the Hawai‘i STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Conference empowers students and educators with first-hand exposure to advanced technologies, the latest software training and real-world challenges in the form of fun, hands-on STEM team competitions.

This year, more than 500 STEM/service learning students and educators, representing 45 intermediate and high schools across the islands, as well as industry professionals offering some of the most innovative global technologies are expected to attend.

This year’s conference theme is “download knowledge, upload service,” which emphasizes the role the conference plays in promoting and developing the skills students need to become innovative thinkers.

The two-day event will feature 43 student breakout sessions, 17 teacher professional development breakout sessions, 14 software competitions, a formal awards banquet and STEM exhibit presentations.

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The event will also feature keynote speakers:

  • Teresa Nededog, web developer for Enhance Digital, will be Friday’s keynote. As a software engineer, she runs a site for the empowerment of women in tech and makes public speaking appearances to encourage women to pursue STEM careers. Currently, she is creating a role-playing game using Python.
  • Scot Refsland, Ph.D., founder and CEO of RotorSports, will be Saturday’s keynote. His new company is focused on the intersection of drone sport and STEM education. He will present information about the first World Drones Competition on O‘ahu, scheduled for Oct. 17 through 22.
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Innovative Agenda–Impactful Learning

Kicking off the event on Friday, a timed, high-energy mixer—the 5 x 5 Sessions—will give students the opportunity to engage five different STEM industry professionals in a “speed networking” format, to learn about STEM career pathways, personal experiences and insights.

During the conference, hands-on student sessions will be offered by education teams and industry experts from Microsoft, NASA, Boeing Co., DevLeague LLC, Air Force Research Laboratory, UH Hilo, UH Mānoa­, UH Maui College, Mount Mercy University (Explore U), Goma Games, 3D Innovations Academy, Delta Education/FOSS, Scot Refsland, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), Jess Cole Films, Elemental Minds, Hawai‘i State Department of Land & Natural Resources Aquatic Division, Monsanto, Maui Electric Company, HouseMart/Ben Franklin Crafts, OnStage Maui, and representatives from Nanakuli-Waianae Complex Area, Lahainaluna High School, King Kekaulike High School, Maui High School, Momilani Elementary and ‘Iolani School.

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There will also be professional development sessions designed just for teachers to motivate and increase STEM learning in the classroom.

Student-centered competitions will be held before and during the conference, ranging from CAD and game design to video, GIS and cybersecurity competitions.

The Power of STEM

In 1999, MEDB created the Women in Technology (WIT) project to work in partnership with educators and businesses to build and strengthen Hawai‘i’s STEM education-to-workforce pipeline. Today, WIT has been at the forefront of inspiring and providing cutting-edge STEM education across the islands and impactful events such as the Hawai‘i STEM Conference to meet those 21st century workforce demands.

“STEM education has the power to impact all of us,” said Isla Young, MEDB’s K12 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.”

“Through MEDB’s STEMworks program, I’ve been able to strengthen my love for computer programming,” said Jeremy Amato, a 12th-grader at King Kekaulike High School. “STEMworks has allowed me to apply my skills to real-world jobs and even use it to help my community. Now I’m looking at pursuing computer programming as my career choice.”

“What I enjoy most from the Hawai‘i Maui STEM Conference is the opportunity to meet new people, and all the educational classes and equipment that we get to use,” said Drew Underwood, a 12th-grader from Baldwin High School. “The atmosphere is exciting and everyone there is prepared to learn.”

“By empowering our youth with STEM skills, tools and opportunities, we can equip and inspire our next generation of innovators thus ensuring a bright future for our community and our world,” said Young.

The conference is sponsored by MEDB’s Women in Technology project in partnership with the County of Maui.

For more information on the 2016 Hawaii STEM Conference, go online or contact Young at [email protected] or (808) 250-2888.

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