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person holding up a science experiment with a balloon

Approximately 90 fifth-grade students from Liholiho Elementary School visited the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa on November 16 to learn about a variety of STEM fields, including life sciences, chemistry, engineering and computer science.

UH Mānoa students, faculty and staff led the students through different hands-on activities, ranging from exploring Hawaiʻi’s limu, exposing objects to extremely cold temperatures, seeing the reactions of chemicals and elements, computer programming and cybersecurity, exploring how a massive concrete canoe is able to float, drone technologies and Formula One style race cars.

person with a magnifying glass
Riku Sadanaga

“It’s really important for students of all ages to be able to have the opportunity to see how science helps us to understand the world around us. But also that science is a ton of fun,” UH Mānoa College of Natural Sciences Acting Dean and Associate Dean Alison Sherwood said. “We’re hoping through experiences like the kind that we’re having here today, they’ll be encouraged and inspired to be lifelong learners of science.”

UH Mānoa College of Engineering Assistant Dean Song K. Choi said, “To expose and engage young minds, we must begin at the onset of education, so the elementary schools, to initiate the curiosity in the STEM, especially engineering, fields and have these students dream, design, ‘make,’ and possibly understand the allowances and limitations of our world to be creative, innovative in problem solving to be a contributing factor to our community and future.”

Riku Sadanaga, a Liholiho Elementary School student, said that the learning experience has motivated him to become a scientist when he grows up.

“The best thing I learned is new Hawaiian words about plants,” Sadanaga said.

“We come from a career perspective because we want to introduce our children to possible careers in the future and one way that we could find was important was to look at education, what kind of research, what kind of opportunities, internships are available so that they can pursue careers,” said Liholiho Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Frederick Magnenat. “This is a really groundbreaking experience and one-of-a-kind.”

—By Marc Arakaki

kids looking at a balloon experiment

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