The Alaka`ina is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 ensuring that the young men and women of Hawai`i have the skills and competencies they need to be effective leaders. We have made this a reality by innovative educational programs that combine leadership, science and technology, and environmental stewardship. For more information about the Alaka`ina, please visit www.alakaina.org.
One of these programs is the Alaka`ina Digital Bus. This program offers mobile science and technology classrooms to supplement STEM curriculum to the students of Maui and Moloka`i.
The mission of The Digital Bus is to encourage interest in science and technology among the underrepresented student populations in grades K-12. Currently operated by the Alaka`ina Foundation and Alaka'ina, the Digital Bus program serves the Foundation's educational outreach goal to expand the next generation of leaders and scientists capable of developing and supporting critical technologies for the future. We offer a state of the art mobile learning platform and field-based science projects to K-12 students that incorporate technology & culture and meet the Department of Education Hawai'i Content and Performance Standards (HCPS) and the Next Generation Science Standards. Additionally, we ensure long-term impact via educator professional development opportunities and equipment lending programs.
In geographically remote locations such as the Hawaiian Islands, underrepresented populations in the fields of science and technology face an even stronger disadvantage in the accessibility of meaningful and engaging learning opportunities that will promote the pursuit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers among its youth. As an answer to this challenge, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Akimeka LLC, Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) and Maui Community College partnered in 2004 to establish the Hawai`i Source Education Outreach program (now known as the Digital Bus) on the island of Maui.
The “Just Think Mobile,” the state's first wireless bus project, began operation on the Big Island of Hawai`i in 2000. Alan Nakagawa and Bill Wiecking, through Friends of the Future, designed and outfitted the “Just Think Mobile” bus to support education using wireless technology. This concept of a mobile science technology lab & curriculum proved to be a successful method of extending learning into a field-based setting.
Alaka`ina actively supports the development of educational opportunities for the youth of Hawai'i. Modeled after the Hawai'i Source Outreach (HSEO) program, the current Digital Bus Program is aligned with HSEO's technology goal to develop skills among the local youth that will result in a more highly qualified workforce in the Islands.
All curriculum utilized in Hawai`i Department of Education Schools is aligned to the Hawai`i State Content and Performance Standards for Science and Technology Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. In the 2005-2006 school year, the Hawai`i Source Education Outreach Program expanded its reach by providing staffing and curriculum to the “Techno Studio Bus” on the Big Island of Hawai`i. In 2007 and 2008 the Digital Bus program visited the island of Moloka`i, and in 2010 the Moloka`i Digital Bus was established.