With COVID all around us this summer, virtual learning has taken center stage. Waiakea High School mathematics and programming teacher, Eric Hagiwara has made good use of computers that were donated to his class in 2016. Since then, he has taught CAD alongside programming and mathematics. Always mindful of extending the life of classroom equipment, Hagiwara swapped parts from equipment to equipment extending the life of the remaining computers. With only a few working computers left, it was time to reach out for help. 


Knowing that learning outside the classroom was quickly becoming the preferred avenue to deliver studies, Hagiwara created a learning program called Modeling Our World. The Modeling Our World program allows teams of students to document the world around them using technology with an emphasis on data analysis and engineering. 


To meet the needs of his students, Hagiwara submitted a grant request to the Thirty Meter Telescope asking for help to purchase twenty-four laptops and supportive accessories to make the learning program a reality. 


TMT answered the call and funded the program. 


The first team of geometry students will use applied mathematics to video document how the County of Hawaii Department of Water Supply engineers provide running water to their respective households. Using this data, Hagiwara challenged the students to provide an analysis with a geometry and engineering emphasis to communicate how County water is delivered to each household in Hilo.


A second team of Waiakea High School students will do a cost analysis of delivering tap water to each Hilo home. 


Finally, a separate Hilo team of programming students will work inHTML, CSS and Javascript to build findings and coordinate a full project presentation that will be uploaded to Waiakea High School’s website for all students to use as a resource. 


“Having a teacher like Mr. Hagiwara makes us think a lot. He presents us with the problem and then we have to figure our way through. When our answers take us to where we end up, Mr. Hagiwara then explains the answer or the steps we were supposed to take,” notes Waiakea High School junior Yusuf Tamini.


“I learned a long time ago that when I structure how to solve a problem and lay everything out on how to get there in advance, and a student has a different way of doing it, they are also right, but yet if I insist on my way, this restricts student growth. Since then, I’ve encouraged my students to find a way. Everyone is different and must grow in their own capacity. It allows for innovation,” said Eric Hagiwara.


Waiakea High School’s Modeling Our Worldprogram is an innovative virtual project that keeps Hawaii Island’s best and brightest students engaged in this challenging COVID-19 world. 



Photo Caption: Back to Front: Waiakea High School’s Vice President Travis Toriano; Vice President Vincent Venzon; High School Teacher Eric Hagiwara and Student Yusuf Tamini




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