Esri giveaway announcement features Hawaii STEMworks projects


Hawaii's involvement with an innovative Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program in local K-12 schools garnered national attention last week when geotech giant Esri announced a $1 billion giveaway of its software to all public schools.

Geotech Hawaii is a partnership between Women in Technology, Esri, the Maui Economic Development Board and the Department to integrate the use of geospatial technology into local K-12 schools. Public school STEMworks students have used Esri's ArcGIS online program to create STEM research projects around controlling the Maui Axis deer population, looking at the impact of earthquakes and tsunamis, tracking the seasonal patterns of sharks, mapping the location of predators and more.

"It can really expand people's horizons as far as seeing what is going on, not just in our little community here on Maui, but just anywhere in the world," said Maui High teacher Keith Imada, whose STEMworks class was featured in the announcement. "The implications are unlimited."

In the announcement, Esri founder and president Jack Dangermond pledged to deploy GIS software to all public schools in the U.S., which is expected to cost more than $1 billion. As part of its promotional rollout, Dangermond cited successes in smaller-scale initiatives across the country, including Hawaii, that encouraged the move. Excerpts from the video above featuring Maui High's and King Kekaulike High's GIS projects were played. 

"I was not a very good student, but when I found something that I loved, you couldn't stop me from learning," Dangermond said. "So introducing this kind of interactive mapping, geographic analysis to kids in communities, our score rate in terms of kids and performing, from East L.A. to suburban Virgina, has just been amazing. I'm very hopeful that this will make a huge difference in the way kids learn. They'll be motivated and then they'll go on to do what they love."

Though the $1 billion Esri rollout kicks in this fall, any Hawaii school can apply for the Esri software (desktop or online version) in the Geotech Hawaii program now. Professional development opportunities for teachers and special events for students, and online support for both, are provided by Women in Technology. Training, resources and the software request are linked to from Women in Technology's GIS Distribution Center.

Schools can also apply for free access to the pro version of SketchUp 3D modeling software by emailing Isla Young at or

Contact Information

Isla Young, Director K12 STEM Education, WIT

Phone: 808-875-2307



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