A major component of the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative is to infuse science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning among Hawai‘i’s young people and within the K-12 school system. The Administration re-focused how STEM teaching is delivered to students through hands-on contextual learning experiences such as robotics, astronomy and aerospace, marine and conservation biology field studies and animation and digital programming. Provided opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning projects that expose them to STEM disciplines in real-world applications in fun, competitive environments. Resources were invested in teacher training, curriculum and science lab materials.
Hawai‘i’s focus on STEM education was major factor in Hawai‘i obtaining a $75 million federal Race to the Top award for education reform.
• Implemented HiEST (Hawai‘i Excellence through Science and Technology) Academies with high school standards-based science and technology curriculum taught by community college instructors or teachers certified by the community colleges. Schools which are host to the Academies include:
- Waipahu High
- James Campbell High
- Waialua High
- Baldwin High
- Olomana School
- Pearl City High and Highlands Intermediate
- Kahuku High and Intermediate
- Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary
- Halau Lokahi, Kalihi
• The Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative was recognized by the National Governors Association and others, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has been sustained through strategic deployment of ARRA funding.
• Conceptualized, led and launched the nationally-recognized Creativity Academy, which fuses art and science K-12 education. Schools which are host to these Academies include:
- Farrington High
- Kahuku High
- Lahainaluna High
- King Kekaulike High
- Maui High
- Kihei Charter School
- Hawai‘i Technology Academy
- Palolo Learning Center
Robotics Education Growth
When the Administration first got involved with robotics education efforts, there were 95 existing teams in the state (several schools hosted multiple teams). Today, after considerable focus was placed on ensuring hands-on, STEM education through robotics principles is available to students from elementary through high school, there are 476 teams throughout the state. These teams represent 54% of Hawaii’s public, private and charter schools.
The teams compete in one of six robotics programs beginning with FIRST LEGO League (elementary school), VEX Robotics, Botball, Underwater Robotics (middle and high school levels) and FIRST Robotics and Micro Robotics (high school).