In her role as a STEM coach, Jenn Whitted said she’s seen Molokai students flourish in the area of science, technology, engineering and math. “The new computers, robots, computer software really open their eyes to projects they can do and learn from,” Whitted said. She said she’s thankful for the support from Maui Economic Development Board and the grants both Kaunakakai Elementary and Molokai Middle School have received from MEDB’s Ke Alahele Education Fund. “I feel like there is no better way for a child to learn than in a hands-on learning environment.”
On August 23, MEDB will host its annual Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner & Auction at the Grand Wailea Resort Ballroom. Proceeds from the event help to power STEM Education programs throughout Maui County. Whitted has been involved in STEM supported grants at Kaunakakai Elementary and for FIRST Lego League Robotics at Molokai Middle School. She said the Ke Alahele grants opened opportunities to expose students to a variety of science based activities in and outside of the classroom. “Our hope is to spark an interest within the individual students that will drive them to pursue higher education,” she said. Ke Alahele grants have covered travel expenses to FIRST Lego League Robotics competition and equipment and material for STEM elementary and middle school programs. “Without the funding we would never have been able to offer these opportunities,” she said.
Whitted said she’s seen students use creativity and team work to complete projects. When the middle-schoolers travel to Maui for Lego competition, they also tour STEM companies. “Getting the opportunity to speak with STEM professionals is an incredible resource for our island. These STEM visits show them that their future is in their hands and they can dream big,” she said. For more information about the Ke Alahele dinner, call 875-2300, or visit www.medb.org