For this month's column, we asked Damien Kahekili Cie, director of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) Mitigation Initiative, to share information about the new Kahikina O Ka La program that will assist Hawaiian students interested in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) or related fields.
UH-Maui College's Kahikina O Ka La program is committed to guiding students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and STEM-related fields within a Hawaiian studies and cultural context. Supported by the National Science Foundation, our unique approach will combine current STEM and STEM-related curricula with traditional cultural knowledge to build a complementary framework from which our students can excel. Over the course of the next academic year, UH-MC's Kahikina O Ka La will develop multiple STEM and STEM-related programs to assist youth from K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels as well as provide instructional opportunities for teachers and community leaders.
This program just completed its inaugural Ke Alahaka Summer Bridge program, which occurred from June 12 to July 6. Fifty-eight students were selected from local high schools throughout Maui County based on a variety of criteria, including but not limited to grade-point average, year in school and academic interests. The intense four-week course was broken up into four sections on marine science, electronic and computer engineering, sustainable energy and technology, and Hawaiian studies. Students participated in hands-on and lectured-based activities both in the classroom and during organized field trips. During the summer program, students were continuously evaluated on participation, assignments and group activities. Those who successfully completed the program walked away with a wealth of knowledge and information as well as a $1,200 stipend.
In addition to this summer program, Kahikina O Ka La will soon provide academic and financial support for the upcoming academic year. About 60 students in STEM and STEM-related fields will benefit from this opportunity. Applicants will be ranked on preference using multiple criteria such as GPA, course units completed and academic interests and goals. Both incoming and current UH-MC students are encouraged to apply. Awarded students will receive continuous academic support through program counselors and an annual performance-based stipend award in the amount of $3,500 or $5,000. To continue in the program, participants must meet minimum semester requirements, including but not limited to: maintaining a GPA of 2.5 ($3,500 award) or 3.0 ($5,000), enrolling in STEM and STEM-related curriculum with a minimum of one Hawaiian studies course per semester, creating an academic plan, meeting with a counselor twice per semester, participating in academic enrichment (i.e. tutoring and mentoring), and providing campus and community outreach.
Although the Kahikina O Ka La program is currently focused on high school through collegiate levels, our goal over the next year is to develop pilot programs with selected K-12 schools in Maui County. These programs will be STEM-focused and incorporate hands-on activities such as science fairs and math camps. As part of our planned programs if funding continues, individualized summer bridges, activities and events will be expanded to Molokai, Lanai and in Hana.
The Kahikina O Ka La program is funded through the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope Mitigation Initiative awarded by the National Science Foundation in response to the application to erect the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope on the summit of Haleakala. The University of Hawaii Maui College has been given the unique opportunity to assist in addressing the impacts of the ATST by establishing a program focused on providing a complement of science and technology based curricula grounded in the context of Hawaiian culture. With more than 15 different STEM and STEM-related programs on campus eligible for this initiative such as agriculture and natural resources, dental hygiene, electronic and computer engineering, UH-MC provides an ideal venue for a range of academic pursuits.
For further information on the Kahikina O Ka La program, contact us at by phone at (808) 984-3543 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka'ana Mana'o, which means "sharing thoughts," is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.