IN THE NEWS: Kalani Adviser Name Hero Next Door
Give our students more opportunity to learn. Teach to the whole child.
Kalani High adviser is named Hero Next Door
By Jason Kaneshiro
December 26, 2015
In Bryan Silver’s classroom, failure is merely a step toward success.
As an engineering and science teacher and adviser at Kalani High School’s acclaimed robotics program, Silver fosters a learning environment in Room J2B in which ideas are to be shared, nurtured and explored.
“If you have something, go for it, let’s try it out,” Silver said. “We’ll find out where it’s failing or where it’s successful.”
Following his mantra of “don’t be afraid to try something,” Silver started a robotics team at Kalani with a group of six freshmen in 2008. The program has grown to include almost 40 students, and Kalani Robotics 3008 — recently re-branded as Team Magma — has lined the shelves in Silver’s workshop with awards earned in local, national and international competitions.
His students’ success and the extra time Silver devotes outside of school, including for fundraising, prompted his selection as a Hero Next Door.
Although he serves as program adviser, students make up the leadership structure and organize various projects, whether it be designing and constructing a robot for competition or running fundraisers to cover the cost of equipment and travel (the team competed in Australia last year and is headed to Utah this season).
Silver said it takes close to $85,000 annually to run the program, with about half covered by parents and the rest generated through grant requests and the students’ efforts, including robotics academies for elementary and middle school students.
While challenges inevitably arise, Silver encourages team members to navigate their own way to a solution.
Bryan Silver, left, with students Hunter Kaleopaa, Shane Hirata and Yongqi Lin are in a trailer that is outfitted with solar panels to provide electricity. The storage batteries just went out, so they are waiting for money to get replacements so they can use solar power. Silver and Lin are holding up a piece of plywood that they used to cut out snowflakes for another school’s Christmas project.
“In the broadest sense the definition of engineer is ‘problem solver,’ and what Bryan is promoting is these kids solving problems,” Kalani Principal Mitchell Otani said.
Along with a full teaching schedule, Silver typically keeps his room open three hours after school for students to work on various projects. During the six-week window in January and February when the team designs and builds its entry for the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, the lights stay on until 9 p.m. with Saturday sessions as well.
“When I realized how much he did for us and how much he sacrificed and how far he went to push us, I think it really molded me into the person I am,” said Grant Takara, one of Kalani Robotics’ original six and now a University of Hawaii senior.
Takara, who will graduate in the spring with a degree in mechanical engineering, teamed up with fellow Kalani alumni Carson Wong and Eric Teshima to start a business selling Bristlebots (an “introductory robotics kit”) to help support the robotics program and recently formed a nonprofit organization, ImagineWorks, to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.
“A lot of it has to do with how much he pushed us with robotics and showed us if you work this hard, great things can come out of it,” Takara said.