The Digital Bus, currently managed by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), is a program of Alaka’ina, a nonprofit 501(c)3 which ensures that the young men and women of Hawaii have the skills and competencies they need to be effective leaders. MEDB and Alaka’ina have made the Digital Bus program a reality with innovative educational programs that combine leadership, science, technology, and environmental stewardship. The Digital Bus offers mobile STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classrooms to supplement curriculum to the students of Maui and Molokai as well as encourage interest in science and technology among the underrepresented student population.
“In operation since 2004, the Digital Bus offers single- and multiple-day classroom and field-based STEM projects to K-12 students,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “Developed out of necessity due to the altered school year regulations during the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual projects were designed to be a combination of self-directed activities, classroom discussions, research projects, and video chats with the Digital Bus.”
Presently, projects are available for a range of grade levels. Scheduling for the Digital Bus is currently open for teachers who are interested in organizing a project for their class, and it can also be booked for community events. Additionally, professional development workshops through a teacher lending program provide opportunities for technology integration into curriculum and classroom usage.
U’ilani Lima, Molokai Digital Bus Site Coordinator, said, “The Digital Bus allows participants to have meaningful science-based outdoor experiences in ahupua’a (land divisions) from which they can directly learn and observe their own community’s resiliency and ecosystems. More importantly, students gain a deeper understanding of their rich cultural history, which includes the wisdom of ancient Hawaiians as environmental stewards. Participants benefit from contact with local community members, specialists, and kupuna while also integrating cutting edge technology such as water- and soil-testing equipment, data collection and mapping activities, and hands-on field-based activities. The Digital Bus projects aim to expand the next generation of leaders and scientists capable of developing and supporting critical technologies for the future with state-of-the-art mobile learning platforms and field-based science projects.”
Leslie Wilkins, President and CEO, MEDB
The current technology goal of the Digital Bus Program is to develop skills that will result in more options for youth in Maui County.