“Today’s after-school club was the best class I’ve had in school, ever!”
That’s what fifth-grader Justin Doi excitedly told his mother, Kelley, when she picked him up at Hanalei a few weeks ago.
Doi was referring to a club led by Jessica Kerber called Digital Design and 3D Printing, which Hanalei’s tech coordinator offered for the first time this quarter, at both Hanalei and Kilauea elementary schools.
The free after-school club is one of three at Hanalei and one of 22 at Kilauea, under a program called Adopt an After-School Club, created and largely funded by the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay.
Among the activities each week at Kilauea are hula, ukulele, soccer, skateboarding, tennis, drawing, gardening, writing books, making movies, making money, Daisy Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Junior Achievement.
“The impact the clubs are having on our students and teachers is incredible,” said Kilauea School Principal Sherry Gonsalves, who had the idea to start the mentoring clubs. “Students are gaining self-confidence and a sense of belonging. Teachers are re-discovering their love of teaching.”
In Kerber’s club, using a process called Design Thinking, each student was asked to focus on a serious challenge facing Kaua‘i residents. Among the problems they chose were homelessness, traffic and boredom.
Using free tools at tinkercad.com, students then designed products that would address their problem: an affordable hotel for the homeless, a monorail, an obstacle course.
Each design was e-mailed to Kerber, who printed them in plastic on a $1,000 3D printer that looks like a microwave.
“I can’t wait to lead the club at Hanalei again next quarter,” Kerber said.
Rotarian Ric Cox, who has already raised $386,000 for Kauai schools, said his goal is to raise $300,000 to fund 10 after-school clubs at each of Kaua‘i’s 12 public elementary schools.