Maui Electric Company and the Hawaiian Electric Industries Foundation donated $5,000 on September 2 to support the Alaka‘ina Foundation’s Digital Bus program. Established as a mobile laboratory equipped with the latest technology designed to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM), the Digital Bus program will give Maui and Moloka‘i students the opportunity for hands-on learning experiences. The donation will aid in the purchase of two fully equipped Digital Buses to replace aging buses on Maui and Moloka‘i.
“Over the years, our Digital Bus program has reached over 18,500 students from public, charter, and private schools in grades K-12 on Maui and Moloka’i, with an emphasis on rural, underserved areas. However, the current Maui bus is aging and the Moloka’i bus also had to be retired,” said Philip Kahue, executive director of the Alaka‘ina Foundation. “Thanks to donations from community-minded companies like Maui Electric we will be able to continue encouraging Maui Nui keiki to seek careers in STEM-related fields, which require advanced skills and training.”
The projects offered through the Digital Bus program introduce topics in all four components of STEM, with marine biology, oceanography, and conservation being the dominant focus. Students will perform hands-on activities using advanced technology, including geographic information systems (GIS) and engage in performing statistical analyses. Each bus will be retrofitted to incorporate user friendly and affordable equipment and tools which accommodate field work and enable students to experience and interact with the natural wonders of the islands.
“Our Maui Electric ‘ohana is honored to once again partner with the Alaka‘ina Foundation as it provides such a valuable and enriching STEM experience for our youth on Maui and Moloka‘i,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric. “As a company that is working toward a clean and affordable energy future, part of this includes nurturing future generations to excel in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The Digital Bus program does exactly that for the keiki in our community.”
Established in 1995, the Alaka‘ina Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is dedicated to the mission of building and promoting leadership and education initiatives for “na pua o Hawai‘i” or the youth of Hawai‘i.