9th Annual Hawaii STEM Conference attracts thousands, celebrates achievements in STEM education

Apr 19, 2018

Those who attended the 9th Annual Hawaii STEM Conference held on April 10-11, reaffirmed once again that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education “rocks” in Hawaii’s schools. More than 1,200 students, educators, industry partners and community leaders throughout the state and the nation gathered for this year’s conference – the state’s largest STEM event dedicated to engaging a new generation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) innovators in Hawaii.

Held at the Hawaii Convention Center, the conference was presented by STEMworks™, a statewide program spearheaded by Women in Technology, an initiative of Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB).
Students and teachers representing intermediate and high schools from every island across the state participated in this regional technology conference which featured over 61 hands-on student sessions, 25 teacher professional development sessions, 14 software competitions, an interactive STEMworks™ Playground offering over 77 mini STEM sessions, a formal awards banquet (“The STEMMYS), a STEMworks™ Spotlight showcasing the STEM service learning projects by Hawaii STEMworks™ students statewide, and a 5×5 Session that provided students the opportunity to engage with five different STEM industry professionals in a speed networking format.

Those who attended the Hawaii STEM Conference touted the impact STEM education and the annual conference continues to have.

“The Hawaii STEM Conference is more than just a high tech conference for awesome nerds and geeks,” said Leinaala Kealoha, a teacher at Kauai High School. “I was enlightened to the paradigm shift necessary for our youth to thrive in this ever changing society; moreover, regardless of their career path, both students and teachers can gain valuable and indispensable skills by indulging in STEM. It’s not just an elective or hobby, it’s a way of life.”
Lisa Joy Andres, Vice Principal of Governor Wallace Rider Farrington High, shared “During the conference, we were excited to support 40 Farrington High School students with the opportunity to dive into STEM, to apply their classroom knowledge in the many hands-on sessions and competitions from CAD, Digital Media, Coding and more; to help sharpen their skills in presenting and collaborating; to allow opportunities to network; and to even support their life skills offering a holistic experience to prepare students for the future.”
“The best part of the Hawaii STEM Conference was meeting other teachers who are passionate about integrating STEM in their classrooms and helping our community in the process,” said Ryan Towata, a teacher at Wailuku Elementary School.
The highlight of the Hawaii STEM Conference was the STEMworks™ Playground,” said Kaylee Marques, a 12th grader at Keaau High School. “I got to learn more about creating games in a unique and fun way. The STEM sessions were very informative and helpful for choosing my careers in the future.”
“The highlight of my experience at the conference was the STEMworks™ Spotlight,” said Gabriella Abbey, a 12th grader at Roosevelt High School. “It was an event that incorporated my hard and soft skills. I got to meet numerous people and got my feet into the STEM world.”
The STEMworks™ Student Spotlight was my favorite,” said Michael Sumaglo, a 12th grader at McKinley High School. “It was fun talking with community leaders and other STEM students.”
“I really enjoyed the 5X5 Industry Session,” said Brittany Agustin, a 9th grader at Moanalua High School. “It provided me with many different viewpoints of career pathways and I got some great advice from industry professionals on what STEM careers are available.”
Eunice Gaper, an 11th grader at Kauai High School, shared “The Hawaii STEM Conference encouraged me to create more professional connections within the STEM field and all the more inspired me to grow my intellectual curiosity.”
“I enjoyed our opportunity to compete and the various learning opportunities presented during the conference,” said Jennea Nagura, a 12th grader at King Kekaulike High School. “I’ve never felt so engaged and excited to further my knowledge in technology.”

Students also had the opportunity to participate in STEM competitions. This year’s Hawaii STEM Conference winners were:

  • 3Cs High School Division – Tiffany Banggo, Kawena Kekuewa, Jason Arrocena, Rustin Magliba (Maui High School)
  • 3Cs Middle School Division – Logan Tsukiyama, Hannah Okamoto, Sienna Racoma, Shairene Bayle – Maui Waena Intermediate School
  • ArcGIS Online U.S. School Competition (Hawaii finalists) –
    • Don Marco Hanaba – Baldwin High School
    • Josh Ooka & Nikki Ooka – Baldwin High School
    • Leilani Stone – Keaau High School
    • Janine Harris – King Kekaulike High School
    • Emery Jade Meyer-Wallett – King Kekaulike High School
  • Cybersecurity – Trevor Kansaki, Isaac Guzzo, Chloe Shigeoka (Roosevelt High School)
  • Game Design Competition – Jun Hyung Lee, Mason Solmonson, Robert Dempsey (Kealakehe High School)
  • HACC4Edu – Zak Sakata, Mark Demesillo, Kyle Lingat, Dylan Tucker (Waipahu High School)
  • Music Competition – Emma Rich (King Kekaulike High School)
  • On-Site Video Competition * – Renzo Gaioran, Kai Kannel, Kailee Kalawa (Maui Waena)
  • Photography Competition – Kiley Kochi (King Kekaulike High School)
  • Piper Design Challenge – Niveen Bacalso, Victoria Teoh (Baldwin High School)
  • Product Pitch – Dillon McCaffrey and Lillian Shibata (Moanaloa High School)
  • Royer Studio – Royer Studio – Gian Carlo Langaman, Izaiah Felipe, Kim Acorda, Bryson Manual, John Brian Ramos, Charize Balingasay (Waipahu High School)
  • T-Shirt Design Competition – Logan Tsukiyama (Maui Waena Intermediate School)
  • THINKit Pet Protection Winner – Aleczander Paul (Mililani High School)

* To view all the winning videos, visit www.hawaiistemconference.com.

According to Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO, “It’s always rewarding to see and hear how this conference has touched lives by empowering our youth. Whether they choose to pursue a STEM career or other field, experiences during this conference will encourage them to be self-directed learners, to be resilient, to stay current and be adaptive to change. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all those who made this event possible – our event’s sponsors, industrial professionals, participating students and teachers, volunteers and our dedicated MEDB staff.”

The 9th Annual Hawaii STEM Conference was sponsored by: Creative Industries Hawaii/DBEDT, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of Hawaii Foundation – Mike Lyons Maui Community Award, Microsoft, Verizon, Hawaii Energy/Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaiian Electric Company, SketchUp, Hawaii Geographic Information Coordinating Council, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation, Transform Hawaii Government, USS Bowfin Submarine/Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association, Sempra Renewables and Engie.

About STEMworks™

The flagship program of the Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology, STEMworks™ is a service-learning initiative designed to engage, inspire, and motivate K-12 students and underrepresented groups toward STEM careers to create a better world. STEMworks™ trains students and teachers in industry-standard software and engineering design practices using hands-on curriculum, regional conferences and workshops. The goal is to work with educators, industry partners and community members to build a thriving STEM education-to-workforce pipeline throughout Hawaii.
For more information on the 2018 Hawaii STEM Conference, visit www.HawaiiSTEMConference.org or contact Isla Young, MEDB’s Director of STEM Education and Workforce Development, at isla@medb.org or 808-875-2300.