Founded in 1841, the Punahou School places core principles derived from Hawaiian culture at the heart of its mission. The Honolulu, Hawaii, school instills the vision of “Kuleana” – one’s responsibility and duty to their community – within the classroom and the curriculum.

For decades, Punahou has been positioned as an innovator within STEM education by helping to develop engineers and computer science experts, who later graduate into some of the world’s most prestigious universities. With an overwhelming focus on giving back to their direct community and Hawaii as a state, Punahou has been constantly innovating its curriculum with a “project-first” mentality driven to help the local community. 

The school’s Director of Design Technology and Engineering Taryn Loveman joined Punahou 6 years ago and was charged with creating a computer science, engineering, and industrial design curriculum for the K-12 students. Through trials of various other CAD platforms, Taryn started using Onshape and in 2021, Punahou signed up for their own Onshape Education Enterprise plan. 

Taryn chose to go with an Onshape Education Enterprise account to further implement Onshape into the Punahou curriculum. The Onshape Education Enterprise offers a variety of organization and management tools allowing educators to further organize their students into classrooms, manage assignments, view student analytics, and more. From an administrative perspective, the Onshape Education Enterprise allows for Single Sign-On (SSO) integration as well as user permission management to better control who can and can’t have certain access and permissions. 

I had the chance to sit down with Taryn to learn more about their direct communal efforts and how Onshape is playing a role in Punahou’s vision of “Kuleana” both in the classroom and throughout Hawaii.

Taryn Loveman, right, and Department Head, Edward Kinnear, left, stand with students in a workshop.

Collaboration Between Classrooms at Punahou and Beyond

When speaking with Taryn last year, he mentioned that Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School, a school just a few blocks away from Punahou, could benefit greatly from the various tools of an Onshape Education Enterprise account. 

With that in mind, the Onshape Education team was quick to help set up and onboard the Stevenson Middle School staff to their new Onshape Education Enterprise.

Sticking with the concept of “Kuleana,” Taryn saw the opportunity to share Onshape with Stevenson Middle School to further complement the school’s makerspace, bolster their engineering curriculum, and allow both schools to work closer together. 

Collaborating with Stevenson Middle School provides a win-win opportunity for Taryn and the students at Punahou. For one, the middle school allows students from Punahou to come into the classroom and present their knowledge on various STEM topics. Taryn mentioned that this working relationship with Stevenson Middle School provides an environment for students to practice what they learn outside the classroom. 

In addition, last year, Punahou assisted the students of Stevenson Middle School in an effort to raise additional funding for their STEM program by using Onshape to build and design various carnival attractions and games. Such efforts from both schools exemplify the power of collaboration through Onshape.

With both schools using the Education Enterprise plan, teachers and students can reap the benefits, like better safety and efficiency.

With the Onshape Education Enterprise, Taryn mentioned, students are safe to work within the private domain of the enterprise. Additionally, an Onshape Education Enterprise allows better efficiency for teachers to organize students into classes and teams as well as collaborate more seamlessly with other teachers and classes. The enterprise plan also gives teachers and administrators the ability to analyze student modeling behaviors and time spent on given design activities. 

Taryn also enjoys the idea of creating a network of users to share ideas, thoughts, lesson plans, projects, etc., within the surrounding community. 

Onshape Helps Honolulu Zoo

kids at the zoo (Courtesy:

In May of this past school year, Punahou played an integral role in the design and build phases of an animal enrichment program at the Honolulu Zoo. Using Onshape, as well as various other tools and machines, students from Waikiki Elementary School were assisted by the Honolulu Zoological Society and Punahou to design, build, and install nine new toys for various animals housed at the zoo. 

Seniors in the engineering focus at Punahou helped provide guidance and assistance to the elementary students as they learned not only how to take care of the animals but how to also plan, draw, design, build, and experiment with various mock-ups for the enrichment toys. 

One of the nine new enrichment toys is the orangutan food puzzle shown below, which was designed to be a food puzzle for the orangutans at the zoo. 

Utilizing Onshape assemblies, students were able to piece together the parts they designed to see the final assembly before printing and building the food puzzle. 

The two fifth-graders who came up with the idea for the orangutan food puzzle were able to describe in great detail the design process behind the toy. 

“We made the awesome orangutan PVC feeder,” the team described. “First, the orangutan spins the food-filled pipe at the top of the box, which has holes in it, and food falls out the holes and onto the top floor. If the food doesn't fall through the holes in the floor they can get a stick and use it to slide the food out the square-shaped holes in the front of the box. If the food falls down to the next level, it can fall into different cups. There are little holes in the front of the box so the orangutan can use a stick to tip the cups over and the food falls in one more set of holes and into PVC pipes on the bottom level. There the orangutan can grab the food with their fingers or a stick!”

Not only were the engineering seniors at Punahou able to use their Onshape knowledge to help design the enrichment inventions but they also were able to act on Punahou’s vision of “Kuleana” as the seniors were also able to teach the fifth-graders what they know while using their Onshape and design knowledge. 

The animal enrichment project also gave Punahou students the chance to further apply engineering skills and enhance learning at nearby schools.

The ‘Power To Create’ within Punahou School

While engineering skills are at the forefront of Punahou’s STEM curriculum, Taryn emphasized the importance of teaching students how to turn their design ideas into reality – especially at a young age when they have more time to explore and hone different skills. 

Taryn notices a lack of diversity throughout the engineering industry and hopes that the idea to show younger students how to create will inspire more engineers from a variety of demographics and backgrounds

The Punahou School truly exemplifies “Kuleana” through partnerships with nearby schools and giving back to the community – and by using a CAD tool that improves collaboration and encourages design innovation.

Get Started with Onshape Education

Onshape for education brings CAD out of the computer lab and into the modern era.