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students examine their 3d canoe
Students designed their waʻa (canoe) using a 3D modeling program and 3D printer.

This June, nearly 100 Native Hawaiian students from grades 6–12 across Hawaiʻi and the continental U.S. got a taste of college life through a free residential summer program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Now in its 35th year, Nā Pua Noʻeau (NPN) UH Mānoa aims to increase the number of Native Hawaiian students attending and graduating from UH.

During the 13-day Summer Institute, students live near campus and participate in interactive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities that emphasize cultural identity. The students get a first-hand experience of what attending college can be like.

3D canoe model
3D waʻa model

“What has always been profound and foundational for the students over the past 35 years is that they’ve been coming to our program with an open mind, with the potential, the capacity and the interest to participate in all of the different pathways that we offer through our Nā Pua Noʻeau programming,” said Kinohi Gomes, director of Nā Pua Noʻeau UH Mānoa, who has been involved with the program for 30 years.

NPN, which is part of the campus’ Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and Native Hawaiian Student Services, has significantly expanded its program this summer. From June 17–28, 46 middle and high school students are engaging in a variety of hands-on activities such as brain anatomy, auto CAD (computer-aided design), haku mele (song composition), lei making and cooking.

Kavin Ing, a Kamehameha Schools Kapālama graduate and incoming engineering freshman at UH Mānoa, is learning to 3D print a Hawaiʻinuiākea waʻa (canoe). Graduate students from the UH Mānoa Native Hawaiian Science & Engineering Mentorship Program are teaching the teens how to design and 3D print at Holmes Hall on campus.

“This is my third year of taking the engineering pathway,” said Ing. “I wanted to guide myself down that path because that’s what I plan to do in the future, and this program has really helped me prepare for that.”

student holds up 3d canoe
Kavin Ing shows off his 3D waʻa model.

Summer Institute activities include:

  • Kahua Wilikī: Engineering Foundation
  • ʻIkena Lolo Uila: Computer Science & Design
  • Kālaimeaola: Learning Opportunities in Medicine
  • Moʻolelo Paheona: Mixed Media Art Through Storytelling
  • No ka ʻAi: Culinary Art in Food

The institute hosted 49 students during its first session from June 3–14 for grades 6–8. Since its inception in 1989, NPN has offered programs for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, providing a wide range of first-class learning opportunities. These programs, which include visual and culinary arts, literacy, and STEM, aim to build a bridge between the community and higher education. Centers are stationed at UH Mānoa, UH Hilo, UH Maui College, Kauaʻi Community College and UH West Oʻahu.

The Nā Pua Noʻeau UH Mānoa Summer Institute collaborates with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Education, Hawaiʻi Department of Health, Office of Hawaiian Education Department, and UH Mānoa Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program.

For more information, visit the Nā Pua Noʻeau UH Mānoa website.

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