Some content on this website is AI generated as a demo for my upcoming AI and Machine Learning workshop.

I was recently featured in Honolulu Magazine, which highlighted our innovative approaches and the impact of AI in educational settings at 'Iolani and other schools. For more details on how AI is being integrated into educational practices at 'Iolani and beyond, I encourage you to read more on this topic in the Honolulu Magazine article. Here’s the link to dive deeper: Honolulu Magazine on AI in Private Schools.

AI is reshaping education much like the calculator or the internet in past decades. At 'Iolani, we embrace this change, continually exploring how these technologies can enrich our educational practices. It fills me with immense pride and hope to see our community so open to embracing new technologies, always looking for ways to better serve our students and prepare them for the future.

Mahalo for joining me on this exciting journey into the future of education!

Responsible Use of AI  Guidelines 

Responsible Use of AI: Guidelines and Learning Opportunities

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the educational landscape, offering powerful tools that can enhance learning experiences and streamline administrative tasks. However, the use of AI also comes with significant responsibilities. Ensuring that AI is used ethically and effectively is crucial to maintaining trust and promoting positive outcomes. This article will outline key guidelines for the responsible use of AI and introduce a workshop that I offer to help educators navigate this complex terrain.

Guidelines for Responsible AI Use

The following guidelines, adapted from Google's Responsibility Checklist, provide a comprehensive framework for ethical AI usage in education:

Learn More: Responsible Use of AI Workshop

To support educators in adopting these guidelines, I offer a comprehensive workshop on the responsible use of AI. This workshop covers:

By participating in this workshop, educators will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to harness the power of AI while upholding the highest standards of ethical practice. This training not only enhances personal competency but also contributes to the broader goal of creating a trustworthy and equitable educational environment.

The responsible use of AI is essential for its positive integration into educational settings. By following the guidelines outlined above and engaging in professional development opportunities like my Responsible Use of AI workshop, educators can ensure that they are leveraging AI in a way that is ethical, effective, and aligned with best practices. For more information and to sign up for the workshop, please visit my website.

I'll be speaking at AI Hawaii on Education and how to become a lifelong learner. Details below:

Join Gabriel Yanagihara and AI Hawaii for an exciting talk about AI in the Classroom

Gabriel is a dedicated educator from Maui with deep expertise in artificial intelligence, computer science, creative media, and video game design. He currently enriches students at Iolani School with courses on AI, game design, 3D printing, and fabrication, while also leading the school's Esports program. His commitment extends beyond teaching, as he actively participates in Professional Development and Community Outreach, offering keynotes, teacher training, and workshops. His work aims to integrate cutting-edge technology into educational and professional settings, reflecting a deep understanding of the ethical, business, and academic implications of AI.

Sponsor: Thank you to the Hub Coworking Hawaii and Hawaii Center for AI for sponsoring the venue. Also thanks to Hawaii Slack for food sponsorship. For more details and feedback about the meetup group, please join #ai-hawaii on Hawaii Slack: https://join.slack.com/t/hawaii/shared_invite/zt-2ejyavuue-32GA7uFZKLSjC2Cwz5gbKw. Mahalo to Hawaii slack for sponsoring the event.

Speaker: https://www.gabrielyanagihara.com/

Location: The Hub Coworking Hawaii 1050 Queen St at 6pm

DKG International Society for Key Women Educators

Thank you to the legendary Ian Kitajima for your mentorship and the opportunities you've been providing me to Hawaii. I was able to join 2016 state teacher of the year Stephanie Mew, and Ian on a panel discussion on AI, Agtech and CS for DKG International Society for Key Women Educators.

This has been a wild couple weeks. The need for AI literacy and training across the state sometimes feels insurmountable.

The Balanced Educator: AI Tools to Minimize Burnout 

Hosting "The Balanced Educator: AI Tools to Minimize Burnout and Maximize Productivity" workshop was a transformative experience. Held at Hawai’i Technology Academy, this event, organized in collaboration with What School Could Be, d’Skills, and HTA, aimed at empowering educators with AI tools to enhance teaching and personal well-being. A heartfelt thanks to Hannah Williams from d’Skills and Josh Reppun from What School Could Be podcast for their invaluable contributions. Their insights significantly enriched our discussions, bridging technology and education innovatively. I'm profoundly grateful to the dedicated teachers from Big Island and Kauai who journeyed to Oahu, investing their weekend in learning alongside me. Your enthusiasm and commitment to embracing AI tools in education are truly inspiring. Additionally, the support from Hawaii Technology Academy in hosting this event was remarkable. This workshop underscored the potential of AI in revolutionizing education, highlighting practical tools for educators to reclaim time, enhance student engagement, and tackle administrative tasks efficiently. Witnessing educators become certified d’Skills Rebel Commanders, ready to integrate real-world AI projects into their classrooms, was particularly rewarding. This workshop not only aimed at reducing educator burnout but also at fostering a future-ready generation. To all participants and supporters, mahalo for your trust and eagerness to explore the vast possibilities of AI in education together. 

Igniting Creativity: AI Storytelling Workshop and Hackathon at STEMworks Conference

This year's STEMworks Conference hosted by Hawaii STEM Conference was a landmark event for both educators and students, showcasing the transformative power of artificial intelligence in education. I had the distinct pleasure of leading a dual-faceted program: an AI storytelling workshop for teachers followed by an exhilarating student hackathon. Our journey into AI illustrated book creation and the competitive yet collaborative spirit of the hackathon underscored the endless possibilities AI brings to education and creativity.

AI Storytelling Workshop for Teachers

The workshop, titled "AI 101: Unleash Your Story," introduced educators to the wonders of AI image generators, particularly Adobe Firefly. The aim was simple yet ambitious: empower teachers to guide their students in creating AI-illustrated books. The session started with an overview of AI's capabilities, from generating text and images to crafting audio and even code.

We dove into the essence of generative AI, unraveling how these tools could turn simple text descriptions into vivid, contextually rich imagery. The focus was on harnessing AI for creative storytelling, encouraging educators to visualize narratives through AI-generated art. Using platforms like Adobe Firefly and Canva, participants learned to craft storybooks, enriching educational content with visually stunning AI illustrations.

The hands-on segment was particularly impactful. Educators experimented with AI tools, generating artwork that brought to life characters and scenes from their imaginations. From tales of adventure to lessons on safety and morals, the workshop illuminated a path for integrating AI into the classroom, not just as a tool for engagement, but as a partner in fostering creativity and learning.

Student AI Hackathon: A Showcase of Innovation

The excitement continued with the student hackathon, an event designed to challenge and inspire. Teams of students applied their newfound knowledge of AI storytelling, competing to create the most original and compelling illustrated stories. The stakes were high, with a publishing deal—personally funded by me—awaiting the winning team.

This hackathon wasn't just about competition; it was a celebration of young minds pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology. Students crafted narratives that were not only imaginative but also showcased their ability to synergize storytelling with AI's capabilities. The winning project was a testament to the power of this fusion, blending engaging storytelling with stunning AI-generated illustrations.

The Impact and Beyond

Both the workshop and hackathon highlighted the potential of AI in education—its ability to democratize creativity, make learning more interactive, and prepare students for a future intertwined with technology. As educators, we're not just teaching students to use tools; we're guiding them to become innovators who can shape the future of technology and storytelling.

The success of these events at the STEMworks Conference is just the beginning. I'm committed to further exploring how AI can transform educational experiences, making learning more personalized, engaging, and creative. For educators and students alike, the journey into AI and storytelling has only just begun, and I look forward to where it will take us next.

For those interested in delving deeper into the concepts and tools introduced during the conference, I encourage exploring the Hawaii STEM Conference website and reaching out for further collaboration or discussion. Together, let's unlock the full potential of AI in education, creating a future where every student has the tools and knowledge to bring their stories to life.

AI In the Open

Navigating the Future with AI: Insights from the Shangri La Panel

Recently, I had the extraordinary opportunity to be a part of the "AI in the Open: Responsible Innovation for Access, Accountability, and Discovery" panel at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design. This event, set against the vibrant cultural backdrop of one of Hawaii's treasured institutions, was not just an occasion but a profound exploration into the world of artificial intelligence, its vast potential, and the critical ethical landscapes we navigate within it.

The panel brought together a distinguished group of thought leaders and experts in the field of AI, including Lance Askildson, Deep Ganguli, Marietje Schaake, Helen Toner, with Alondra Nelson steering our conversations as the moderator. Each contributed their unique perspectives and insights, weaving a comprehensive dialogue that was as educational as it was inspiring. 

Our dialogue spanned the spectrum of AI-related topics, from the intricacies of its development to its cultural and ethical ramifications. We delved into the ways AI can augment our daily lives and professional environments, while also emphasizing the importance of approaching its challenges with a thoughtful, ethical mindset.

Being a part of "AI in the Open" reinforced the value of collaborative insight and the power of diverse voices in shaping the trajectory of artificial intelligence. It highlighted the essential role of open, inclusive discussions in crafting a future where AI aligns with our collective values and enriches the human experience.

As I reflect on the event, my sense of inspiration and optimism for what lies ahead in the realm of AI has only deepened. Contributing to such a crucial conversation was a privilege, and I am eager to continue this dialogue with peers, students, and the wider community.

To all who attended and engaged with us, your curiosity and participation are the bedrock of meaningful advancement. As we forge ahead, let's embrace AI's possibilities with enthusiasm, tempered by a strong sense of responsibility.

For those unable to attend, I encourage you to seek out the event's key insights and join the ongoing discourse on AI's role in our society. Together, we can steer the evolution of this dynamic field in a direction that amplifies the best of what it means to be human.

Participating in the Shangri La panel was a momentous occasion to discuss the fine balance between AI's openness and the imperative of ethical use and privacy protections. Representing 'Iolani School in these discussions was an honor, contributing to the narrative of responsible AI innovation and application. For further reflections and insights from this pivotal event, please visit the Shangri La event page.

I am continuously seeking avenues to enrich our collective understanding of AI through workshops and educational sessions. If there are upcoming opportunities to delve deeper into AI's possibilities together, I am keen to contribute and share in these exploratory journeys.

Reflecting on the "AI in the Open" panel has been an invaluable journey, underscoring our shared dedication to leveraging AI in a way that respects privacy, ensures ethical usage, and fosters positive societal impacts. I extend my gratitude to the Shangri La staff and its director for facilitating this important dialogue. Their commitment to promoting responsible AI practices is exemplary. For more details and insights, please visit the Shangri La event page.

Shangri La Website 

It was an exhilarating experience leading the "Design Thinking with AI" workshop in partnership with Ian Kitajima of Design Thinking Hawaii. The event brought together a curious and enthusiastic group, eager to explore the intersection of artificial intelligence and design thinking principles.

During the workshop, we dived deep into how AI tools like ChatGPT, Claude, and Mid Journey can enhance the creative process inherent in design thinking. We explored various scenarios where these modern AI tools can be applied, highlighting their potential in generating innovative solutions and driving creative thinking.

The hands-on approach allowed participants to engage directly with these tools, providing a practical understanding of their capabilities. It was fascinating to see how AI could complement the human-centric approach of design thinking, offering new perspectives and insights.

One of the key takeaways from this workshop was the importance of blending AI's analytical power with human intuition and empathy. We discussed the ethical considerations and the need for a balanced approach when integrating AI into our problem-solving toolkit.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge and learn from the participants' diverse experiences. The workshop was not just an educational journey but also a testament to the evolving landscape of technology and its role in shaping our future.

[Reflecting on My keynote breakout session at Schools of the Future Conference #SOTF23]

I recently had the incredible opportunity to present at the Schools of the Future Conference #SOTF23, surrounded by some of the most vibrant and visionary educators I've ever encountered. It was an exhilarating experience to share and exchange insights on the innovative use of AI in education.

In my workshop, I showcased the diverse ways AI has revolutionized my teaching methods over the past year. From leveraging AI tools for creating engaging lesson plans to utilizing platforms like ChatGPT for interactive learning experiences, it was a journey of discovery and innovation. I also shared my experiences with AI-driven assessments and how they have helped in providing personalized feedback to students.

The most rewarding aspect of this experience was not just sharing my stories but also learning from fellow educators about their visions for AI in education. The enthusiasm and creativity in the room were palpable, and the exchange of ideas was nothing short of inspiring.

I hope that my experiences and the applications of AI I shared have ignited a spark of curiosity and innovation in all who attended. The possibilities with AI in education are limitless, and I am excited to see how we all will harness this technology to enhance our teaching and learning experiences.

Thank you to everyone who joined my session. Your passion for education and willingness to embrace new technologies give me great hope for the future of teaching and learning. #SOTF23

iteach808 2024 wrapup

This year, iTeach808 embarked on an innovative journey, taking a leap back in person and into the future of education by centering its theme around Artificial Intelligence (AI) - a decision reflective of our commitment to preparing educators for the rapidly evolving technological landscape.  We launched a new format for professional development (PD), aiming to address not just the technological prowess of our educators but also their flexibility, mental health, and overall well-being.

A New Era of Professional Development

The traditional PD model often operates within a rigid framework, offering limited scope for personalization and failing to address the broader needs of educators. Recognizing this gap, iTeach808's new format was designed to be inherently flexible, allowing educators to navigate their learning paths within the conference framework by selecting workshops over 4 weekends instead of all on one day. This approach acknowledges the diverse professional and personal commitments of educators, offering them the autonomy to engage with content that resonates most with their teaching philosophies and schedules.

Integrating AI into Education

The focus on AI was a deliberate choice, made to equip educators with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate the future of teaching. AI presents unparalleled opportunities for personalization, efficiency, and engagement in the classroom. By demystifying AI for educators, iTeach808 aimed to empower them to leverage these technologies to enhance their teaching methodologies and foster a more engaging learning environment for their students.

Prioritizing Educator Flexibility

Flexibility was at the heart of this year’s iTeach808. The conference was structured to accommodate the varying schedules of educators, offering multiple sessions across different days and times. Such adaptability ensured that educators could engage with the PD opportunities without having to compromise on their personal or professional responsibilities.

Supporting Mental Health and Well-being

Beyond technological proficiency, the conference also placed a strong emphasis on the mental health and well-being of educators. The stress and burnout associated with the teaching profession have been well-documented, and the addition of navigating new technologies can add to this strain. By offering workshops focused on managing workloads, incorporating mindfulness into the classroom, and building supportive educator communities, iTeach808 aimed to provide a holistic PD experience that addressed both the professional and personal well-being of attendees.

The Impact and the Way Forward

The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with many praising the conference's focus on AI, its flexible format, and the emphasis on mental health. As we look to the future, the success of this year's iTeach808 serves as a beacon for the potential of PD to not only enhance educators' technological competencies but also to support their overall well-being.

iTeach808 has set a new standard for what PD can achieve. By embracing AI, offering unprecedented flexibility, and acknowledging the importance of mental health, we have initiated a shift towards a more inclusive, supportive, and future-ready PD model. This year's conference is just the beginning, and I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead as we continue to innovate and support our educators in this ever-changing world of education.

8 cohorts

200+ teachers

4 weekends

28 hrs presenting

150 books started

500+ Lesson plans written

20+ Schools attended

One amazing conference

Presented to the most vibrant collection of visionary educators I ever had the privilege of meeting. I hope you all enjoyed my stories of using AI to teach this last year as much as I enjoyed learning from you all for what AI can do for me. #SOTF23

We went over double the capacity of our room with over 105 attendees in a room with 48 chairs, showing that Education is leading the charge towards AI and we will not be left behind.

We also launched our book "Teaching Joy", available this Black Friday on amazon!

After over a year working with AI tools, I knew I needed to expand beyond just doing personal projects of projects with my students. There was just so much opportunity for Hawai'i to grasp with AI. 

Embarking on a mission to nurture the seeds of innovation in the heart of Hawai'i, I found myself reflecting on how best to serve our vibrant community. It became clear that forging partnerships grounded in shared passions for education and technology was the key. Reconnecting with an old friend, Ian Kitajima, sparked the beginning of this exciting journey. Together, we're proud to unveil "AI 101: Crash Course in AI and Design Thinking," a workshop designed to unfold the wonders of AI through the lens of design thinking, completely free of charge.

If you're in Hawai'i and intrigued by the idea of partnering to uplift our community through educational workshops, let's connect and explore the possibilities. Together, we can illuminate pathways to innovation for everyone.

As we stand on the precipice of the fourth industrial revolution, where artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping every facet of our lives, I find myself drawn back to where it all began – the classroom. This isn’t just a homecoming; it’s a mission to arm the vanguard of our future – our educators – with the tools they need to navigate and leverage the waves of technological change.

Bridging the Gap with AI 101

I’m launching a series of professional workshops, beginning with "AI 101: A Crash Course in Current Artificial Intelligence Tools." These sessions aren't just about understanding AI; they're about empowering the leaders in education and business with the ability to harness AI for enhancing their workflows and the learning experience of their students.

Having been sculpted by the wisdom and dedication of teachers in my formative years, this initiative is my way of giving back. By merging my passion for emerging technologies with practical applications, I aim to make a tangible difference in the lives of educators and their students.

The AI Toolkit for Teachers

The capabilities of AI today are both astounding and nuanced. Through these workshops, participants will dive deep into the ethical, commercial, and academic aspects of AI, emerging with a profound comprehension of how these tools can be integrated into their daily practices.

Imagine creating an entire website or curating learning materials in minutes, not hours – that's the power of AI for productivity. And this isn't speculative; the website you're reading this on and the visuals accompanying it were crafted by AI, demonstrating what's possible in a mere 25 minutes.

But it's not just about efficiency; it's about security and creativity, too. We'll explore how AI can generate images and videos while also understanding the importance of cybersecurity in this new landscape. With up to 10 attendees per session, the learning environment will be intimate and hands-on.

The Future Is Hands-On

The workshops will not only be theoretical explorations but also practical immersions. Attendees are encouraged to bring their devices for a truly interactive experience, where the line between learning and doing blurs seamlessly.

The Sessions: A Glimpse into the Curriculum

Your Journey with AI Starts Here

The workshops, available both remotely and in-person, are tailored to fit your preferences and schedules. The AI journey is unique for each educator, and I am here to guide you through it.

To schedule a session for your next conference, professional development day, or private training, reach out at gabrielyanagihara@gmail.com. Let's harness the power of AI to redefine education and blaze a trail for our future generations.

HisTory of AI by "Me"

As an educator with a zeal for experimenting with AI, I embarked on a journey to delve deeper into this revolutionary field, leveraging some of the most cutting-edge AI tools available. Here’s the detailed step-by-step process that I followed:

Step 1: Voice Model Creation with ElevenLabs

 I began by taking seven hours of my lectures and workshop recordings and uploaded them to ElevenLabs. This platform uses AI to analyze and replicate the unique characteristics of one's voice. After processing, ElevenLabs provided me with a personalized voice model that could speak in my tone and inflection.

Step 2: Dialogue with ChatGPT 

Next, I interacted with ChatGPT, providing a transcript that included my ideas, some google searches on the history of AI and possible future outcomes. ChatGPT’s sophisticated understanding of language helped to refine these ideas and produce a coherent narrative in one pass.

Step 3: Generating Audio with ElevenLabs 

I then fed the refined transcript back into ElevenLabs, which used the model of my voice to generate an audio file. This wasn't just text-to-speech; it was my digital voice twin narrating a story crafted by AI, lending a personal touch to the information.

Step 4: Visual Creation with Midjourney 

With the audio ready, I turned to Midjourney, an AI that specializes in generating images from textual descriptions. I gave it prompts related to the content of the audio file, and it produced a series of images that captured the essence of the topics discussed.

Step 5: Video Animation

 Finally, I used video editing software to bring together the audio from ElevenLabs and the images from Midjourney, creating an animated video that not only educates but also engages viewers with visuals that match the narration.

The outcome was an enriching, multi-sensory learning experience—a video that uses my voice to navigate the past, present, and future of AI, accompanied by visuals that resonate with the narrative.

This process showcases the power of AI collaboration, where tools like ElevenLabs, ChatGPT, and Midjourney intertwine to transform educational content into immersive experiences. As we educators embrace these tools, we not only learn about AI but also pioneer its application, setting the stage for a future where learning is limitless and deeply personalized.

I want to play around with AI midjourney images to AI generated video, but I  haven't found a free tool good enough yet. 


I have some exciting news to share with you all! As of yesterday, Code Interpreter has been rolled out to all ChatGPT Plus subscribers. This incredible tool allows you to dive into the world of coding and unleash your creativity without any prior coding experience.

To access Code Interpreter, you'll need to enable it in your settings. Simply go to your settings, click on "beta features," and toggle on Code Interpreter. It's that easy!

Now, let's talk about the endless possibilities this tool offers. Here are just a few examples of what you can do with Code Interpreter, some from reddit and some from playing around with it. 

Edit Videos: Add effects, zoom in or out, or create captivating visuals with simple prompts.

Perform Data Analysis: Read, visualize, and graph data within seconds.

Convert Files: Seamlessly convert files directly within ChatGPT.

Turn Images into Videos: Transform still images into engaging videos.

Extract Text from an Image: Instantly extract text from images.

Generate QR Codes: Create fully functional QR codes in no time.

Analyze Stock Options: Get insights and recommendations on specific stock holdings.

Summarize PDF Docs: Analyze and summarize entire PDF documents.

Graph Public Data: Extract data from public databases and visualize them in charts.

Graph Mathematical Functions: Solve and plot a variety of mathematical functions.

Generate Artwork: Use Code Interpreter to create stunning visual artwork and generate unique designs.

Analyze Social Media Data: Extract valuable insights from social media data to understand trends and sentiment analysis.

Translate Languages: Utilize Code Interpreter to translate text or even entire documents into different languages.

Create Interactive Chatbots: Develop interactive chatbots that can respond to user inputs and engage in dynamic conversations.

Perform Sentiment Analysis: Analyze text data to determine the sentiment (positive, negative, neutral) and gain valuable insights.

To make the most of this tool, I encourage you to give it a try. If any of you have Python experience or datasets that we can test it out with, please reach out to me via chat or let's schedule a quick meeting this coming weeks. I would love to explore the capabilities of Code Interpreter together

Summer's Creeping up

I am excited to announce that I will be expanding my summer courses this year that utilize the power of Minecraft to engage and educate students.

One of the courses I will be teaching is called "Exploring Hawaiian History through Minecraft." In this course, students will have the opportunity to learn about the rich history of Hawaii and its culture through the lens of Minecraft. By building and exploring different landmarks and historical sites, students will gain a deeper understanding of the important events and people that have shaped the islands.

Another course I will be offering is called "NASA and Space-X: Building a Mars Base in Minecraft." In this course, students will use Minecraft to design and build their own Mars base, learning about the challenges and opportunities of living on the red planet along the way. We will also delve into the exciting work being done by NASA and SpaceX to make human settlement on Mars a reality, and students will have the chance to explore the latest developments in space travel and colonization.

Finally, I will be teaching a course called "World Governments in Minecraft." In this course, students will have the chance to learn about different types of government and how they work by building and role-playing in a variety of Minecraft worlds. We will cover topics such as democracy, monarchy, communism, and more, and students will have the opportunity to experience firsthand the pros and cons of each system.

I am confident that these courses will be both educational and fun for students, and I look forward to using Minecraft to inspire a love of learning in my students this summer. If you are interested in signing up for one of these courses, please don't hesitate to reach out to me for more information.

2023 professional development workshops

As a STEM teacher and Head Coach for Esports at Iolani School, I am excited to announce that I am now offering professional development workshops in Hawaii. With a background in computer science, creative media, fabrication, Esports, visual effects, and video game design, I am passionate about sharing the latest tech with educators and helping them develop skills in emerging technologies.

Throughout my career, I have been a huge advocate for professional development and community outreach. I have given keynote speeches, teacher trainings, and PD workshops on a variety of topics, including Esports, Minecraft, virtual reality, and machine learning AI tools. All of these workshops are based on real-world applications from my classroom, including Hawaiian history, NASA/Space-X Mars, and world governments using the video game Minecraft.

If you are an educator in Hawaii and are interested in bringing cutting-edge technology into your classroom, I encourage you to reach out to me to schedule a professional development workshop. You can email me at esports@iolani.org to learn more and to book a session. I look forward to working with you and helping you take your teaching to the next level.

On September 30th, I had the pleasure of attending the Vantaleagues Esports Championships at the Hawaii Pacific University Esports Arena. As a teacher, it was truly amazing to see the level of organization and passion that went into this event by Vantaleagues, Hawaii Pacific University, Olelo, and the Hawaii Esports Alliance, and I was so proud to see my own students participating in an exhibition match between Iolani and Punahou schools.

The Vantaleagues Esports Championships, hosted in collaboration with Hawaii Pacific University, marked the first in-person championship event for Vanta, and it was truly a sight to behold. The HPU Esports Arena was filled with energy and excitement as middle and high school teams from across the state of Hawaii competed in a variety of games. Many thanks to the sports including Hawaiian Telcom for helping grow Esports in Hawaii.

As someone who has been teaching and advocating for esports in Hawaii for many years, it was truly heartening to see so much support and enthusiasm for this burgeoning industry. Vanta, in particular, has been a wonderful partner in helping to provide a sustainable esports pipeline in Hawaii, and I was so grateful to be able to attend this event and witness firsthand the amazing work that they are doing.

I am also deeply grateful to the Hawaii Pacific University Esports Arena for hosting this event and for their ongoing support of collegiate esports in Hawaii. The potential for growth in this field is truly unprecedented, and events like these are crucial for bringing our community together and getting the word out about the many benefits of esports.

Overall, the Vantaleagues Esports Championships were a truly memorable experience, and I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it. I am already looking forward to the next event, and I hope that you will join me in supporting and celebrating the exciting world of esports in Hawaii.

Esports is thriving in Hawaii, and the Hawaii Esports Alliance (HEA) is here to provide the support, education, and resources needed to help schools and organizations succeed in this exciting and rapidly growing industry.

As a nonprofit organization, our mission is to make esports accessible to everyone in Hawaii and to support, educate, and provide resources to the community in an effort to drive industry growth and sustainability. We believe that fostering an ecosystem that deeply links education and esports, overcoming tech accessibility issues, and normalizing gaming here in Hawaii is key to building a sustainable and thriving esports industry.

HEA was founded in 2021 as a way to bring together the various esports programs and services scattered across the islands and provide a centralized hub for educational institutions, esports businesses and sponsors, government entities, and other esports advocates to share resources and knowledge. By working together and leveraging the benefits of economic development and education, we can create a sustainable esports ecosystem that supports and uplifts the entire community.

Whether you are a school, business, government agency, or individual advocate, we welcome you to join us in our mission to make esports accessible to everyone in Hawaii. Together, we can create a bright future for esports in our state.

Summer Esports Leadership class

This summer, the 'Iolani School's Esports Leadership class brought together students from all around the world for a unique residential life summer dorm program. The program was designed to teach students the skills needed to become leaders in the esports industry, and how to setup and manage their own esports program.

Throughout the course of the program, students learned a wide range of skills, including team management, tournament organization, and even how to code their own custom games. But perhaps the most exciting part of the program was when the students organized their own summer esports tournament.

The tournament was a huge success, with teams competing in popular games like League of Legends and Valorant. The students put their new skills to the test as they worked to ensure that everything ran smoothly and that the tournament was a great experience for all involved.

Overall, the 'Iolani School's Esports Leadership class was a fantastic opportunity for students to learn, grow, and make connections in the esports industry. We can't wait to see what these talented young leaders accomplish in the future.

'Iolani Podcast interview is up

I am excited to announce that my interview for The 'Iolani School Podcast is now available! In this podcast, I had the opportunity to share my career journey in esports, gaming, and more with host John Tamanaha '87.

The 'Iolani School Podcast features conversations with a wide variety of people associated with the K-12 college preparatory school based in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. As the school's Director of Interactive Media, John does an excellent job of creating a fly on the wall experience for listeners, making it feel like you are right there in the Faculty Lounge with us.

I had a great time chatting with John and I hope that listeners will enjoy getting to know more about my work and my passion for esports and gaming. A special thanks to Kings Kalohelani for serving as the podcast's audio engineer.

If you are interested in listening to the podcast, you can find it on the 'Iolani School website or on your favorite podcast app. I hope you enjoy the episode!

Overwatch League in Hawaii

I had the opportunity to visit the University of Hawaii at Manoa's esports arena for the Overwatch League Worlds. It was a great experience to see firsthand the what our peers at the UH Arena are doing.   

As an Esports Coach myself, I was particularly impressed by the adaptability of the facilities and equipment they were able to put together for the matches. But beyond the impressive technology, what really stood out to me was the sense of community and teamwork among the students and Esports leadership team. They were all so dedicated to putting on an awesome event and representing the University of Hawaii and local Esports on the global stage.

Overall, my visit to the University of Hawaii esports arena was a truly inspiring experience. It's clear that esports is not only a growing industry, but has a lot of upcoming talent. I can't wait to see what the future holds for the University of Hawaii's esports program!

Launch of UH Esports

On a recent visit to the University of Hawaii Esports arena, I had the opportunity to take a tour, reconnect with the legendary Chris Lee and meet both Governor Ige and the head of the University of Hawaii, David Lassner. It was clear that the students and staff at the University are deeply committed to bringing esports to their campus and making it a thriving part of student life.

During the tour, I was impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities and the dedication of the staff to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all players. From the top-notch gaming equipment to the comfortable seating and social areas, it was clear that a lot of thought and care had gone into the design of the arena.

One of the highlights of the visit was getting to meet Governor Ige and hear about his support for esports at the University. He emphasized the importance of providing students with opportunities to pursue their passions and develop their skills, and he expressed excitement about the potential for esports to bring people together and foster a sense of community.

I also had the chance to speak with David Lassner, the head of the University of Hawaii, about the University's involvement with the Overwatch League. He shared with me the University's vision for esports and the ways in which they are working to build a strong and competitive team.

Overall, my visit to the University of Hawaii Esports arena was a truly enlightening experience. I left feeling inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of the students, staff, and leadership at the University, and I am excited to see where their efforts in esports will take them in the future.

Esports Comes to 'Iolani

I am excited to announce the launch of the 'Iolani Esports Program! This all began when a group of dedicated and passionate students approached me with the idea of starting an esports team at our school. They were determined to create a top-notch program that would set the standard for esports in Hawaii, and they had a number of ambitious requirements in place to ensure that they could achieve this goal.

One of the most impressive aspects of this proposal was the focus on academic excellence. The students insisted that the 'Iolani Esports Program should only accept students who maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher, with a focus on A's and B's. They understood that in order to be successful in esports, they would need to prioritize their studies and work hard in the classroom.

In addition to their academic requirements, the students also proposed that the 'Iolani Esports Program should include a focus on physical training. They understood that being in top physical condition would be essential for long hours of gaming, and they were committed to working hard to improve their endurance and strength.

Finally, the students were determined to make the 'Iolani Esports Program the best it could be, and they had a number of innovative ideas for how to structure and organize the team. They presented a detailed plan to the school administration, and I am pleased to report that their presentation was a huge success. Work has already begun on the program, and we are all looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the 'Iolani Esports Program.

One of the most exciting developments so far has been the arrival of our new computers from Ibuypower. These powerful machines will be the cornerstone of our esports arena, and the students have been working hard to set everything up and get everything running smoothly. It has been a true team effort, and I am so proud of the hard work and dedication that the students have shown.

I can't wait to see what the future holds for the 'Iolani Esports Program. With such a dedicated and passionate group of students leading the way, I have no doubt that this program will be a huge success. I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this exciting journey, and I can't wait to see what the students will accomplish in the months and years ahead.

NEWS and BLOGS Below:


ISTE 2017: San Antonio TEXAS

I recently had the incredible opportunity to meet one of my heroes, Mitch Resnick, at the 2017 ISTE Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Mitch is the creator of Scratch, the free coding tool that has had such a profound impact on my professional life and my ability to stay in Hawaii.

As soon as I learned that Mitch would be also be at the conference, I knew that I had to attend his session. I have been using Scratch for years, and I have always been so grateful for the amazing impact that this tool has had on my work as an educator. It has allowed me to teach coding to students of all ages, and I have seen firsthand how empowering and transformative it can be. All for FREE!

When I finally had the chance to meet Mitch in person, I was filled with gratitude and awe. He is such a brilliant and innovative thinker, and it was an honor to be able to speak with him and learn more about his work. I was able to thank him for creating Scratch and for all that he has done to make coding more accessible and more fun for students around the world.

The 2017 ISTE Conference was an incredible experience, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have met Mitch and to have learned from so many other amazing educators. It was an unforgettable week, and I will always be thankful for the opportunity to have attended.

ahupua'a watershed mural

The Ahupua'a Watershed mural painting event was a huge success! Over 200 students came out to help paint the base background colors for the mountain and stream, as well as to paint native species on wood cutouts made in our Fab Lab. It was amazing to see so many young artists coming together to create such a beautiful and meaningful piece of art.

As volunteers painted away, the mural wall began to take shape. The mountain range emerged in shades of green and brown, while the stream flowed in simple blues. And as students added their painted wood cutouts to the mural, the Ahupua'a Watershed came to life with a diverse array of native plants and animals.

But the event wasn't just about creating art - it was also about learning and sharing knowledge. Students researched the different species that would live in the stream, and learned about the important role that the Ahupua'a Watershed plays in our community. And as they worked together to build the mural, they practiced teamwork and collaboration, and developed their problem-solving skills.

Overall, the Ahupua'a Watershed mural painting event was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. The finished mural looks amazing, and it's a testament to the creativity and talent of our young artists. We can't wait to see what they come up with next!

Big hearts on the big island

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Hilo, Hawaii for a professional development workshop and keynote Minecraft workshop at the Waiakea District. During my time there, I had the opportunity to teach teachers how to use Minecraft as a learning tool while exploring the Hokulea and its worldwide voyage.

I must say, it was a truly memorable experience. Not only was I able to share my passion for Minecraft and education with an enthusiastic group of teachers, but I also had the chance to experience the beauty and culture of the big island of Hawaii.

I was welcomed with open arms by the Waiakea District and everyone I met during my visit. It was clear to me that this community values education and is committed to finding new and innovative ways to engage and inspire students. I was honored to be a part of this important work and am grateful to the Waiakea District for inviting me to be a part of their professional development efforts.

As someone who lives and works on Oahu, I must admit that I was a bit hesitant to travel to Hilo for this workshop. However, I am so glad that I took the opportunity to visit. The big island of Hawaii is truly a special place, and I hope to have the chance to return often in the future.

In conclusion, I want to express my deep appreciation to the Waiakea District and everyone who made my visit to Hilo such a memorable and rewarding experience. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge and passion with this wonderful community, and I hope to return soon to continue this important work.

kamehameha students teach me ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi in hilo

I had the opportunity to visit the big island of Hawaii for a workshop at Kamehameha Schools. During this workshop, I shared with the students how to use Minecraft to learn about the Hokulea and its worldwide voyage. It was an incredible experience, and I was truly amazed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of these students.

One of the highlights of the workshop was when the students taught me about ancient Hawaiian culture they had learned in their other courses and helped me build a replica of the Hokulea voyaging canoe in Minecraft. They conducted research on life in ancient Hawaii, designed their own voyaging canoe labeled in Hawaiian, and then brought it to life in the game. It was truly inspiring to see these students using their knowledge and creativity to learn and explore in a new and innovative way.

After the workshop, I had the chance to explore and hike all over the big island. It is a truly breathtaking place, and I was constantly in awe of the natural beauty that I miss from growing out in the neighboring islands that I sometimes miss working on Oahu. From the stunning beaches to the majestic mountains, there is so much to see and do on the big island.

Overall, my visit to the big island was an unforgettable experience. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the students at Kamehameha Schools and to explore all that the big island has to offer. I hope to have the chance to return soon and continue my adventures in this incredible place.


I recently had the incredible opportunity to give a TED talk at TEDxHonoluluED on "Minecraft and the Hokulea". In this talk, I discussed how I use Minecraft to teach students to engage in self-directed learning.

One of the things that I love about Minecraft is that it allows students to explore, create, and learn in a way that is completely self-directed. They are able to take control of their own learning experience, and as a result, they are much more engaged and motivated to learn.

During my TED talk, I shared some of the ways that I have used Minecraft to teach students about the Hokulea and its worldwide voyage. I showed how students can use Minecraft to learn about ancient Hawaiian culture, design their own voyaging canoes, and even build their own replicas of the Hokulea in the game.

I am so grateful to the TEDxHonoluluED team for giving me the opportunity to speak at their event. It was an incredible experience, and I have always enjoyed giving presentations. It is such a thrill to be able to share my ideas with a wider audience, and I hope that my talk was able to inspire others to explore the amazing educational potential of Minecraft.

It was an honor to be interviewed by Think Tech Hawaii for their series on innovative educators in Hawaii. In the interview, we talked about my passion for esports, gaming and how I use these mediums to engage students in learning. You can check out the full interview video on the Think Tech Hawaii website or on their YouTube channel.

I'm also excited to announce that I will be speaking at the upcoming TEDxHonolulu event on the power of self-directed learning through video games. If you're interested in attending, you can find more information and purchase tickets on the TEDxHonolulu website. I hope to see you there!

Hawaii to Harvard

I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Harvard Innovation Lab with my coworkers from 'Iolani School. It was an incredible experience, and I was blown away by all of the innovative ideas and technologies that were on display at the lab. Even viewing the random messages written on the dry erase walls instilled in me how many ideas were flowing through these halls.

One of the highlights of the visit was the chance to see some of the cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) technologies being developed at the lab. As someone who is passionate about VR, I was fascinated by the various projects that were being worked on, and I was excited to share some of my own experiences with the grad students I met there. I had brought a few Google Cardboard VR headsets with me, and it was fun to see their reactions as they tried them out for the first time.

Another memorable moment from the visit was the opportunity to experience snow for the first time. As a Hawaiian, I am used to warm and sunny weather, so it was a bit of a shock to be standing in the snow in my aloha shirt. Despite the cold, it was a fun and unique experience that I will always remember.

Overall, my visit to the Harvard Innovation Lab was an unforgettable experience. I am grateful to have had the chance to see all of the incredible work being done at the lab and to meet some of

Google CS First comes to 'Iolani

I am excited to announce that I have recently launched a Google CS First club in our elementary school's after-school program. Google CS First is an online platform that just launched that provides free, easy-to-use computer science lesson plans and activities for students in grades K-8.

Our club is open to all students in grades 3-5 and meets once a week after school. During each session, we work on a variety of fun and engaging projects that teach important computer science concepts and skills. Some of the topics we have covered so far include coding, animation, and game design.

I have been amazed by the enthusiasm and creativity of our students as they dive into these projects. They are constantly coming up with new ideas and finding new ways to use the tools and resources provided by Google CS First. It has been a truly rewarding experience to watch them learn and grow in this exciting field.

If you are interested in starting a Google CS First club at your school, I highly recommend giving it a try. The platform is easy to use and provides everything you need to get started, including lesson plans, videos, and activities. To sign up, simply visit the Google CS First website and follow the instructions to create an account and register your club.

I hope this article has inspired you to consider starting a Google CS First club at your school. It is a fantastic way to introduce students to computer science and to spark their creativity and curiosity in this exciting field.

2009 Minecraft as a teaching tool

Hello fellow educators!

I wanted to share with you all about my recent "Adventures in Video Games" class that I ran this summer. It was an absolute blast, and I was so impressed by the creativity and skill of my students as usual.

In this class, students had the opportunity to learn how to program their own video games using Scratch, a block-based programming language developed by MIT. We worked on a variety of projects, ranging from simple puzzle games to more complex platformers. The students were so engaged and excited to see their creations come to life, and it was a joy to watch them learn and grow as programmers. Shoutout to Mark Loughridge of creative academies for leading me into this world of education.

In addition to Scratch, I also introduced the students to a new game called Minecraft. Now, I know that this game may not be for everyone, but I believe it has great potential as an educational tool. In Minecraft, players can build, explore, and problem-solve in a virtual world, using their creativity and critical thinking skills to construct their own adventures.

I was so impressed by the way my students took to Minecraft and were instantly asking for books and videos and looking to learn more about the game and how to explore it.

In conclusion, I had an amazing time running my "Adventures in Video Games" class this summer. The students were a joy to work with, and I am already looking forward to running the class again next year. I hope that this post has inspired you to consider using video games, like Scratch and Minecraft, in your own classrooms as educational tools. They can be a great way to engage and motivate students, and to help them develop important skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.

As we move forward, I believe that video games will only continue to grow in popularity and importance in education. I hope that you will join me in embracing them and finding new and innovative ways to use them in your classrooms.

Video proof: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/25796731

Scratch 1.4 to 3.0 (post dated blog)

As a teacher, I have always been a big believer in the power of coding to inspire and educate students. That's why I was so excited when I discovered Scratch back in 2009. Since then, I have used Scratch to teach thousands of students basic coding concepts, and together, we have created countless projects and lines of code.

For those who may not be familiar, Scratch is a block-based programming language developed by MIT. It is designed to be user-friendly and accessible to students of all ages, and it allows users to create interactive stories, games, and animations using a simple, drag-and-drop interface.

In the beginning, Scratch was a bit clunky (the first version I used was 1.4), but over the years, it has grown and evolved into a powerful and sophisticated tool. The latest version, Scratch 3.0, includes a range of new features and improvements, such as the ability to create 3D projects and to program hardware devices like micro:bits.

As I look back on the past 12 years of using Scratch in my classroom, I am amazed by how far the platform has come. From its humble beginnings as a simple programming tool, it has grown into a powerful and versatile tool that is used by millions of people around the world. And I am excited to see what the next 20 years will bring.

If you are a teacher or a parent looking for a fun and engaging way to introduce your students to coding, I highly recommend giving Scratch a try. It is a fantastic resource that has the potential to inspire and educate students of all ages.

Check out a few of the oldest projects I have from my elementary students. files prior were lost as we didn't save them off the computers in 1.4.