Ke Alahele grant leads to teaching insight on Molokai

Kualapu’u School teacher Susan Forbes began her Ke Alahele Education Fund grant project with a goal – field a competitive robotics team. It was a building year at the Molokai K-6 charter school and this year the students were not ready to compete. The hope is that soon the returning students will have enough foundational knowledge to handle the robotics materials and that program hours can be expanded to give students enough time to complete their projects, Forbes said.

While she was unable to immediately field a competitive robotics team, Forbes was able to adapt how she trains the students. “I no longer ‘train’ the students individually,” she said. “Instead, I train one student at a time, with the expectation that the student will go on to train another student and so on. This works well and results in students becoming better listeners and observers during the initial teaching,” Forbes explained. All the team members, except two, were exposed to robotics for the first time this school year, Forbes said. “At the end of the year, all participating students learned how to build, program and operate a robot. In addition, the problem-solving format of the challenges promoted perseverance, higher-order thinking, and teamwork – since difficult problems are best tasked out to groups. The students also learned “how to work with one another and to develop their own values and character,” Forbes said.

STEM education incorporates knowledge of science, math and technology with creativity in design and engineering, she said. And, by incorporating the components into one, “student engagement and learning are enhanced.” Forbes said schools should support education in science, technology, engineering and math “not only so that their students see the connection between problems, ideas and solutions/products, but also that their students are better prepared for the types of careers that await them.” MEDB established the Ke Alahele Education Fund to power up STEM Education in Maui County. This year’s Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner and Auction will be held August 23 at the Grand Wailea Resort. Call 875-2300, or go to www.medb.org.

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