Exploring the World of Robotics: Mehkai Tactacan ('25)

For Mehkai Tactacan, discovering his love for robotics was possible because of the supervision of his teachers and the diversity of classes available at Hanalani Schools. A student at Hanalani since K4, he soon discovered that math and science were always his favorite subjects – he found them both fun and challenging – and was encouraged by his teachers to participate in the Elementary Science Olympiad (ESO). Balancing out his tech side by joining the basketball team as an additional extracurricular, he is well on his way to a well-rounded education.
“With ESO, I got to work on any kind of science and engineering project I wanted,” says Mehkai. After practicing for a few months, he was able to participate in a science fair with 11 other schools on the island. For his first year, he remembers completing a fossil project where he had to be able to identify 20 to 30 dinosaurs by their fossils.
This year, he’s expanding his love for science and engineering by exploring robotics. “I’ve always wanted to get into the robotics team ever since I took a computer and robotics class when I was younger,” says Mehkai. Under the guidance of coaches Mrs. Phillips and Mr. Delizo, Mehkai and his fellow robotics classmates are learning all about the values of hard work, teamwork, discipline and creativity as they design robots. Their goal? To compete (and hopefully win!) in an island-wide competition. “We’re still currently just practicing and designing the bots, but it’s a lot of fun. My favorite part of robotics is making the robots and getting to customize them,” says Mehkai.
Mehkai is the third of four siblings who attended Hanalani and as he looks back on his experiences at the school, one stands out in particular. In 4th grade, the students went on a field trip to Hawai’i Island, where they hiked up to see the Kilauea Volcano, explored a lava tube and even roasted marshmallows camp-style. “That was the first time I travelled to another island and also the first time I traveled without my parents,” he says. “We all had a lot of fun!”
When Mehkai graduates, he hopes to follow in his parents’ footsteps and explore the field of medicine. “My parents are both nurses, so I want to be like them,” says Mehkai.
One of his favorite teachers is Mrs. Rotz, his third-grade teacher who made social studies class a blast by turning the classroom into a game show where Mehkai and his classmates could compete and win prizes. “People at Hanalani Schools are nice, and the teachers help you make more friends,” says Mehkai. “Going to Hanalani Schools has helped me learn how to be friendly and help others instead of just thinking about yourself,” he says. “I really enjoy being here.”