Nearly 60 girls in 4-H clubs across the island danced under the stars and used GPS navigation techniques to find treasures at the annual 4-H Tech Connect* Fair held at Maui Economic Development Board. Designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math, Tech Connect offered a variety of activities from “Spaghetti Bridge” to “Float the Boat,” challenging participants to test their skills in math and science. “It’s always a lot of fun,” said Olivia Takakura, a 13-year-old in the Wailuku Roselani Na Hokulani 4-H Club. She and her club members coordinated with other clubs across the island to attend MEDB’s event, funded this year by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
Takakura said her experiences at Tech Connect and at the FIRST Lego League robotic competition has fueled her interest in science and math. “I’m thinking about medical school or energy resources in my future. I had not thought about it until after I saw all these opportunities,” she said. Kaitlyn Yamada, also a Wailuku Roselani 4-H member, said she’s learned to use compasses, telescopes and a GPS – all through Tech Connect. “We really like GPS. You know it’s not just for cars. We can use GPS to find all kinds of things,” she said. At Tech Connect, Yamada helped to set up the coordinates of buried “treasure” on MEDB property. “GPS is really easy to me to use and it’s a lot of fun,” Yamada said.
This year’s Tech Connect opened with a presentation by Kawai Kulihiwa, an astronomer and former MEDB intern and participant in the MEDB Women in Technology Project. “I looked in the sky and I loved it,” she told the group of 4-H girls. Kulihiwa provided background about Polynesian voyages to Hawaii and encouraged the young girls to learn as much as they could about science and math. “If you work hard, it’ll pay off,” she said.
* MEDB’s 4-H Tech Connect was launched in 2006 by MEDB’s Women in Technology Project with funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture.