Hawaiʻi STEMworks Students and Local Industry Mentors Collaborate to Design Oyster Cages

by | May 2, 2020 | Partners

Amid COVID-19 Stay at Home Orders, Students Invited to Compete in a Virtual Hackathon for the Hawaiʻi STEM Conference 2020

Hawaiʻi STEMworksTM Students and Local Industry Mentors Collaborate on New Innovation-Learning Platform to Design Oyster Cages

On the heels of a successful 100% virtual online hackathon earlier this month, the online project-based learning platform BizzyB.com is being applied by STEMworks Hawaiʻi for the upcoming Hawaiʻi STEM Conference 2020. The competition will involve utilizing locally sourced, natural materials to design an oyster cage for Malama Maunalua’s new aquaculture initiative. The hackathon will take place May 8-9, 2020 from 10am-5pm, with a number of tech prizes awarded to winning teams.

“Like so many beloved events during this time, we needed to cancel the Hawaiʻi STEM Conference 2020 for the safety of our communities. In the days following, teachers and students reached out to express their disappointment at missing this opportunity for professional development and meaningful engagement with industry leaders,” said Katie Taladay, STEMworks Program Manager.  “We began looking for opportunities to bring the highlights from the annual meeting to life VIRTUALLY – particularly the Hackathon portion. We are extremely excited to partner with BizzyB and Malama Maunalua to bring the STEMworks’ yearly hackathon challenge to our kids virtually!”

By participating in hands-on concept development activities, students will learn creative problem-solving and other “Soft Skills” that are increasingly demanded in the business world. BizzyB, an innovative, Hawaiʻi-designed software platform will allow the team members to collaborate remotely. During the hackathon, teams of two to five participants will hear from other organizations who have developed and deployed their own oyster cages and learn about the native Hawaiian plants that were used in the past for fishing. The students will test their scientific, engineering design skills as they research and design solutions.

“When schools began closing due to Coronavirus, we made BizzyB entirely free for the rest of the school year,” says BizzyB author and Bizgenics Foundation Chairman Steve Sue. “Through HIplan of Hilo, the University of Hawaiʻi and Hawaiʻi Community College stepped up to take advantage of our offer. The result was an amazing 100% virtual hackathon which took remote learning and education in Hawaiʻi to a new level. We are excited to see it now benefit STEMworks and Malama Maunalua as well.”

BizzyB’s approach combines self-directed learning, 4Cs learning (Creativity, Critical-Thinking, Collaboration & Communication), STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and SEL (Social Emotional Learning). The result is an online innovation Concept Canvas where student teams collaborate on five essential themes of an innovation project. This canvas supports remote collaboration via sidebar comment channels, built-in feedback surveys, pitch deck builder and showcase presentation functions. Mentors can view team content and advise remotely from anywhere, anytime. Team members also experience corporate leadership roles serving as facilitators of the five themes. 21st Century Soft Skill measurement standards are measured in the system by pre- and post-project user surveys. Outcomes are reported through contest public pages and through individual student portfolios that feature project summaries, awards, certifications, badges and Soft Skill assessments.

Educators and participants are invited to observe the event. Email katie@medb.org for an auditor access. A link to a recorded version of the showcase will also be published following the event.

The event is sponsored by Microsoft, Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research Laboratory, County of Maui, Maui Economic Development Board Ke Alahele Education Fund, Hawaiʻian Electric, CyberHawaiʻi, and ESRI. It is being produced by STEMworks in partnership with Malama Maunalua and Bizgenics Foundation.


See how students innovated during the hackathon and learn how they worked to turn their concepts into reality.