Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) has developed a wide-ranging slate of programs to advance K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education for the County of Maui and statewide. Together with an extensive network of partners, MEDB has initiated innovative educational programs and services that support both students and educators. Their end goal is a resident workforce with the technological capabilities, innovation, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial skills to participate fully in Hawaii’s economy.
“Essentially, MEDB’s educational programs are designed to balance the need for economic stability and diversity,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “We design each program with respect for the community’s cultural and environmental traditions.”
Recently, MEDB hosted 150 middle and high school students and STEM educators for Student Space Exploration Day. Participants met with former astronaut Scott ‘Scooter’ Altman for a firsthand discussion of living and working in space. The students also experienced hands-on scientific demonstrations and presentations of advanced technologies.
Altman, a retired United States Navy Captain, talked about his four Space Shuttle missions as well as his time as a Naval aviator, test pilot, engineer, and astronaut. “I like to engage with students because it’s important that we connect with the next generation and get them interested in space-related issues,” he said. “It will be students in this age group, whom I am talking to today, who might be the first ones on Mars!”
Melinda White, Hawaii Technology Academy STEM educator, said, “It’s amazing to bring students to this event and expose them to career pathways that exist for their future in Hawaii. We are a STEMworks™ school and truly appreciate all the opportunities MEDB provides for students across the state; such as their Lending Library which includes a portable planetarium.”
Wilson Chau, a Maui High School junior, said, “Meeting astronaut Scott Altman was a great experience. I am currently doing a project with the James Webb telescope and I learned so much from Mr. Altman’s talk. Thank you, MEDB and STEMworks, for all the opportunities you give students from different backgrounds to encounter the current advances in technology. I am grateful for this chance to further my career goals.”
Student Space Exploration Day really opens the students up to different opportunities they never even thought of. It is so difficult to get exposure like this for them. MEDB makes it all happen! Jennifer Suzuki, Maui Waena School Technology Teacher