‘ELE‘ELE — Ronson Sahut, a Wilcox School teacher, spoke calmly to the student, in this instance, Leslie Uri, a Waimea High School student volunteer, who was crouched and encased in a large trash bag Friday evening in the ‘Ele‘ele School cafeteria.
In the background, Koloa School student volunteers Kate Edwards and Daysha Brause watched with keen interest as the sound of a vacuum cleaner whirred and other eyes joined the group huddling around Sahut and Uri.
“I’ll give you an ice cream if you can stand,” Sahut said.
Uri tried. The power of the enveloping trash bag held tight and the student volunteer’s efforts drew laughter from the audience that collected for the second science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Night at ‘Ele‘ele School.
The Waimea High student volunteer joined her crew that had the cardiopulmonary resusitation techniques at the heart of its activity station, and the Koloa School students settled down to their presentation involving how vacuum affects a marshmallow.
More than 200 ‘Ele‘ele School students accompanied by their families flowed through the doors of the cafeteria for the two-hour event that offered a wide range of STEM-based activities providing education in everything from air, color, electronics, anatomy and more.
These stations were manned by more than 100 students from Wilcox School, Koloa School, Waimea and Kauai high schools, and the broader community, including Corteva Agriscience and the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, which brought over its Septar inflatable boat, where students could have a hands-on experience in piloting the boat either live or remotely.
“The kids love this,” said Leila Kobayashi, Koloa School principal, which will host its own STEM Night in May. “This is a great fun and learning environment. Everyone learns. This is a great community event. Everyone helps each other.”
Kobayashi has experience with STEM Night after being exposed to the event while serving as vice principal of Wilcox School.
“Natsumi Yamasato, the science teacher at Wilcox School, started this five years ago,” Kobayashi said. “Since then, other schools have started holding their own STEM Nights.”
One of the most popular stations involved creation of light sabers. That station was limited to the first 100 students to register.
“We just helped to provide for the light sabers and food for the volunteers,” said Moani Furuta of Kamehameha Schools, who collaborated with ‘Ele‘ele School Parent Community Network Center Coordinator Mahealani Contrades-Brun on the successful Parent Night earlier in the school year.
“That was such a successful event, and a good outreach to show our resources capabilities,” said Furuta.
”Tonight we have other community partners such as the Kauai Community Science Center with Sarah Styan, the Cognitions program from the Kauai Community College, PMRF, Corteva Agriscience, and the students from all the other schools.”
Contrades-Brun was like a whirlwind buzzing between the school’s cafeteria, the connecting breezeway where Wilcox School Principal Corey Nakamura shepherded his corps of students manning a working hovercraft, and the old cafeteria, where Styan monitored the Three Little Pigments light station along with the Hekebots, ‘Ele‘ele School’s first Lego League robotics team.
“Partnering is huge,” Contrades-Brun said. “This STEM Night gives kids a different avenue of learning, and look at the parent engagement. Everyone is having fun and learning. I can’t wait for our next event, Kanikapila, coming up April 15, and based on our Parent Nights.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.