Waikiki, HI—The Office of Naval Research will host a media preview and blessing ceremony August 17 for the "Maui Digital Bus," a project designed to foster student interest in science through project-based curricula and digital technology. On August 18, the public will be invited to see the roving science lab, which is equipped with digital cameras and microscopes, water-testing equipment, mapping software, and other technologies that students can use to develop their research and communication skills while exploring the natural world.
"The Office of Naval Research would like to see more kids become scientists and engineers, so that we have a strong pool of talent for the future," said Ted Sheppard, of ONR’s Mid-Pacific Branch Office. "We’d like to give students opportunities they might not have, to support the project and inquiry standards of education, and to inject technology into their curriculum. We really want to rally kids to science."
The bus will be introduced and blessed on Oahu during TechEnterprise 2004, a conference that offers Hawai’i businesses an opportunity to interact with government agencies and learn about current and upcoming federal technology opportunities. The bus will then return to Maui, where it will begin supporting schools and youth groups. More information can be found through the project's web site,
The Maui Digital Bus will be operated by Akimeka, LLC, a native Hawaiian IT company. The company, which is headquartered in Honolulu, hired an experienced educator and curricula developer to create projects for various grade levels, based on Hawai’i Content and Performance Standards for Science and Education Technology.
"As a local company, we feel that it is important that we work to improve educational opportunities for our youth. We see the partnership with the Office of Naval Research as a means of contributing to our community by supporting students and education from K-12," said Vaughn Vasconcellos, president and CEO of Akimeka.
The Maui Digital Bus follows on the work of educators Alan Nakagawa and Bill Wiecking, who launched the successful "Just Think Mobile" on the Big Island of Hawai’i in 2000. Because education and outreach are part of the Office of Naval Research’s overall mission to promote science and technology, the ONR Global office began supporting development of a Maui Digital Bus in 2003.
Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., a private, nonprofit community action agency, donated a bus to the project and will collaborate on education projects through its programs for Maui's youth.