Mayor Arakawa Inspired by STEM

May 29, 2014

For the past two years, Mayor Alan Arakawa and his wife Ann have served as hosts of the popular “Are You Smarter Than a STEM 5th Grader?” – a lively game during the annual MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund dinner that tests attendees’ STEM acumen against those of our students. Often times, with interesting results. Recently, Mayor Arakawa spoke candidly with us about his thoughts on STEM education and the future of our youth.
How did you feel about math and science classes when you were growing up?
Science has always intrigued me. I’ve always loved the different kinds of sciences and did well in those classes…I use the math I learned every day, whether it’s about seeing if a proposed project will pencil out, calculating the plusses and minuses for the county, or balancing our County’s budget.
Do you feel it is important for students to have strong STEM skills today? If so, Why?
It’s absolutely necessary in this day and age to have strong STEM skills. Scientific breakthroughs and technical advancements are happening every day and our youth needs to have these skills in order to survive in this world. Having a strong STEM foundation will benefit our youth for the rest of their life.
How does today’s workforce compare to when you started working?
The workforce of today is not heavy labor.  Back when I was growing up you were just as likely to end up farming or doing heavy labor work. Today, the less people are getting into heavy labor professions and the majority are going into the technology and information sector.  More STEM education is needed in order to expand and support this growing workforce.
You’ve supported the MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner every year since you’ve served as Mayor. Why?
The answer is simple.  MEDB’s STEM programs help students excel. Our children are bright. If given the proper motivation and needed skills they can achieve great things. That’s what STEM does. Students are not just there taking up space, they’re learning about space.
What advice would you give to our children regarding education?
My advice is to absorb as much you can and learn how to enjoy learning. It’s a lifetime requirement.  Many of you will not stay in one job forever and you may change careers sometime in your lifetime. So continuous learning experiences will be key to your success.
What was it like living with a terrific Math teacher?
Ann has always been very much involved in education and because of that she was able to take our children and mold them into good learners who enjoy learning. She’s very good at difficult math concepts and balancing our household’s financial books.  I suppose with my interest in science and arithmetic, we complete each other.  I definitely think I got the better deal in our marriage – I got her.