Kaua`i CC showcases STEM internships

Kauaʻi Community College
Camilla Matsumoto, (808) 245-8280
Community Relations & Sp. Projects, Chancellor's Office
Posted: Dec 6, 2013

Kaua'i CC student Jin-Wah Lau describes her natural alternative to herbicide project.
Kaua'i CC student Jin-Wah Lau describes her natural alternative to herbicide project.

LIHUE, Hawai'i—Kaua'i Community College held its first Science and Technology Ho'ike to showcase science and technology students' internship projects on Wednesday Nov. 27, 2013. Families, friends, school groups and island visitors were invited to explore the exhibition of poster presentations and video projects. Among the many visitors were more than 80 students from Kaua'i High School who are studying the sciences, mathematics and sustainability. The exhibit will be on display until December 11, 2013, from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m in the college's One Stop Center. 

Thirteen science and technology internships were made possible with community partners: The Edge of Kaua'i, The Surfrider Foundation, Kaua`i CC’s Electronics Technology Program and Science and Mathematics Division with funding provided by a Title III grant awarded to the College. The grant supports educational opportunities and services as well as career experiences such as internships in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) particularly for Native Hawaiian students.

Projects were conducted both in the lab and in the field around Kaua'i.  Students studied ocean debris, water quality, beach erosion, how to control weeds, and how to calibrate electronic equipment.  Kaua'i CC Title III STEM coordinator Andrea Erichsen said: "The college’s STEM internship program is project-focused and requires students to work closely with each other, faculty and community partners and mentors. STEM internships also provide students with invaluable opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to challenges facing Kaua'i while developing professional experiences needed on resumes and transcripts."

Carl Berg, vice chairman of Surfrider Kaua'i and coordinator of the Blue Water Task Force said: “Internships are the perfect way to see if your personal interests and curiosities can lead to a career in the STEM fields. They allow you the experience to help decide how you want to look at the world, what you really want to do in life. Internships with Surfrider get you right out in the field, taking precise measurements to scientifically analyze ecosystem components and changes occurring because of man's impact upon the planet. Whether it is water pollution, tsunami debris, recycling, or environmental monitoring, Surfider internships give you hands on experience and insights into the environmental science of our ocean world.”

“Kaua'i CC students have become major ambassadors to the community of Kaua'i," said Chuck Blay, principal investigator at The Edudate of Kaua'i (TEOK) Investigations. "With their assistance, we are continuing to conduct shoreline surveys on the west side of the island as part of TEOK.  Being involved provides them an opportunity to completely experience the application of the Scientific Method.”

Blay added: “The Pacific Missile Research Facility (PMRF)/Kekaha beach surveys have been going on now for an entire year and provide valuable information on what makes our shorelines and beaches work. We are just now initiating surveys on at Waimea and Po'ipu. This work benefits the island community. The video produced by recent graduate of Kaua'i CC student Jana Rothenberg Blay and poster created by student Jin-Wah Lau have been instrumental in helping us translate our research to the general public. Their work has been presented at a number of meetings we have had on island, including one to the Mayor, and public discussions held at the Hanapepe Library and at PMRF. The invaluable assistance of the KCC students has really helped The Edge of Kauai program move forward.”

“With Kaua'i CC as a bridge to the County, State and independent scientists, shoreline setbacks have been changed because of our findings," said Kaua'i CC student Jana Rothenberg Blay.

Intern student Jin-Wah Lau added, “Scientists mentored me and I learned firsthand how they do field research.” Reflecting on her internship project in Agriculture, Lau said: “I am always looking for alternatives to pesticides.  In Kokee, I found limited plant growth in the understory of strawberry guava plants.  I am using that knowledge toward developing a natural alternative to herbicides."