Observing Innovators in Bloom

Education hubs provide an immersive learning experience.
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Illustration: Xochitl Cornejo

The potential of innovation to blossom, like a sprout in a garden pot, is limited by the size of its confines. In 2050, students learn under the infinite sky. In each school complex, outdoor education hubs outnumber placid classrooms, each site a star in a constellation of learning spanning mauka to makai.

At Kona’s coastal hub, children wow wide-eyed around a sea cucumber stuck to their classmate’s cupped hands. The kupuna who placed it there smirks as he describes how its alkaline excrement fortifies coral reefs. “Eeew!” they squeal.

Another group of kids huddle around a fishbot, tinkering with its robotic innards on the deck of the learning pier. It’s the caudal fin, they agree, that needs tuning in order to make it really swim in biomimicry of the pāpio schooling 20 meters away.

“I would want to see a place that’s surging forward in technology and beauty but also doesn’t forget where they come from. Hawai‘i is a beautiful place with a lot of history, so paying tribute to it would be respectful.”

– Erin Song, Student, McKinley High School

Their teacher stands on the edge of a black ‘a‘ā tidepool three steps between either group, jotting observations into her smartware. It’s exactly the kind of qualitative data that enables friendly artificial intelligence to tailor lesson plans individualized to each student’s strengths, joys, and inclinations.

In the decade since Hawai‘i became the global leader in climate innovation, the booming industry has transformed the state’s economy and super-charged school capacity. Now, our teachers act as facilitators of personalized revelations, rather than managers of mini-knowledge factories. Each student is prized for the unique and creative potential they bring to their island’s future.

“In 30 years, I hope to see Hawai‘i using cleaner energy and … to not see the effects of climate change. I hope there will be changes in our consumption and that we are protecting and preserving the land around us. … I see Hawai‘i shifting reliance on the tourism industry and to be self-sustaining.”

– Marc Gamayo, Student, Waipahu High School

Indigenous science, born of hundreds of generations’ ongoing co-creation of regenerative systems thinking, has reclaimed the zeitgeist. Rivers, farmers, dry land forests, and retired neighbors are invaluable resources for innovative ideas and hyperlocal knowledge. Autonomous electric buses safely shuttle students between hubs, and public wifi is as much an afterthought as the fresh air they breathe throughout the school day.

At each site, students learn by observing closely the land they will steward into a new age of holistic resilience, their island a microcosm of our shared planet’s potential.

About the Artist: Xochitl Cornejo

06 07 22 Hhr Heco3 Xcornejo HeadshotXochitl Cornejo is a Mexican-American illustrator and 2D animator from Kailua with a passion for bright colors. Inspired by magical realism, Ghibli movies, and the daily life they experienced growing up in Hawai‘i, they like creating fun and whimsical worlds in their art. Their past work includes animated shorts, children’s book illustration, and background art for the animation industry.

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Explore the Series: Hawaiʻi of Tomorrow

Hawaii Business Magazine, in partnership with Hawaiian Electric, summons the optimistic spirit of practical imagination to think about what Hawai‘i would look like in 2050, with special consideration on the challenges of the coming decades in this six-part series titled Hawaiʻi of Tomorrow. Click any title below to explore this series!

2022 Hb Hawaii Of Tomorrow Transportation 560x770Part 1: The Tranquility of Transportation

Join Hawaiian Electric in imagining a future when nights are filled only with the sounds of leaves rustled by tradewinds… read more.




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Part 2: Food Powered by ʻĀina

Native Hawaiian self-reliance provides a template for imagining a future of innovative stewardship of our natural resources in part two of Hawaiʻi of Tomorrow, a six-part series presented by Hawaiian Electric… read more.



03 2022 Hawaii Of Tomorrow Residential 560x770 WebPart 3: Revitalizing Communities with Streams and Sunlight

“Revitalizing Communities with Streams and Sunlight” and local artist Kate Wadsworth pays homage to the restoration of indigenous systems that have existed for generations in Hawaiʻi… read more.



03 2022 Hawaii Of Tomorrow Hydrogen 560x770 WebPart 4: A Hub for Hydrogen Innovation

In this part of Hawaiʻi of Tomorrow, the local artist Lauren Trangmar envisions a future where energy production systems feed back into the ʻāina and power our communities… read more.



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Part 5: Oceania’s Climate Renaissance

When the sea began to rise, so did our island community, together, in a new era of cooperation. Artist Solomon Enos illustrates how… read more.


Categories: Hawaii of Tomorrow