STEM Pre-Academy

Welcome to STEM Pre-Academy!

STEM Pre-Academy fosters inspiration and relevance in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics through collaborative interaction between middle school teachers, university researchers and subject matter experts. Multidisciplinary interaction takes place in the form of teacher workshops, technical support and tools, and is driven by teacher inquiry and need. This statewide program helps educators in Hawai‘i’s public middle schools develop research-inspired technologies and processes and implement them in student curriculum and activities.

STEM Pre-Academy provides similar collaborative educational experiences that enable University of Hawai‘i research students to interact with Hawai‘i teachers and students in the classroom, in the field, and through online participation.

Through its projects and partnerships, STEM Pre-Academy introduces teachers to STEM research, technology, and innovation—supplying their students with the inspiration to consider technology and educational workforce possibilities in their future careers.

Cosmic Rays

A Cosmic Addition to Our Website!

2017 was a exciting year for collaboration with Dr. Veronica Bindi, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. We kicked off the partnership with a hosted presentation by Dr. Bindi for students and teachers entitled, When is the Best Time to Send Astronauts to Mars? We kept the collaboration going with a research-inspired project to design and build a low-cost particle detector that will, when complete, be an excellent hands-on resource for teachers and students.

We're happy to announce some fantastic resources available now on our online Space Particle Group Outreach pages. You'll find edited videos of the When is the Best Time to Send Astronauts to Mars? presentation, as well as a wealth of other materials and resources related to Dr. Bindi's exciting work.

Please check it out, and stay tuned for a bunch more exciting updates!

Research and Engineering Design Skills Clinic Featured!

RED Clinic

The October, 2017 Research and Engineering Design Skills Clinic for Students and Teachers (RED) event has been featured in the University of Hawai‘i news!

Check it out!

(And also have a look at the video trailer that was produced!)

Julie Segawa

Diving Deeper - A Teacher’s Experience with C-MORE Science Kits in the Classroom with Julia Segawa

As an 8th grade Earth and Space Science teacher, Julia Segawa enjoys “watching science come alive through hands-on, content-related activities.” Julia is the Stevenson Middle School host for the STEM Pre-Academy C-MORE Science Kits, and uses the kits to supplement her curriculum throughout the year. Read more...

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality - Ready, Set, Go!

Virtual reality and augmented reality are on the rise in classrooms. Here's a primer on getting started. Read more...

New Technology in a Traditional Art Class

Kapa‘a Middle School Art teacher Julia Sanderl shares her experience using a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 in a traditional art class. Read more...

Thoughts on Chromebooks with Logan Newbill

We caught up with Kapa‘a Middle School teacher Thomas “Logan” Newbill recently and asked if he would share his thoughts on Google Chromebook in the classroom. Read more...

Teachers Get Schooled!

On June 22 and 23, 2015, a workshop on the Engineering Design Process in middle schools was held at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Organized by the Hawaii Department of Education, the Office of Naval Research Project and Educational Leadership Program at Chaminade University, and STEM Pre-Academy, the workshop focused on giving teachers a solid foundation for implementing the Engineering Design Process in their classes. Read more...

Visit the new miniblog on Mobile Devices - Mobile Learning!

We've kicked off a new miniblog on this site and hope you’ll join the online conversation to learn more about the various mobile devices that are now inundating the consumer market and some of which are now being used in the classroom.

Nutrition Researcher Speaks to PE Classes

When science and engineering principles collide, the result can be quite practical with far-reaching effect as students at Jarrett Middle School learned in October from UH Jahren Geobiology Laboratory Research Technician, Josh Bostic.

Josh gave a great presentation to 3 PE classes at Jarrett Middle School on the science behind added sugars in the standard American diet. The students learned that making healthy food choices now will help keep their bodies healthy and free of chronic diseases in the future.

Follow-up Mini Workshop: Water Quality Field Trip to Kualoa Ranch

On Saturday, July 26, 2014, teachers from Waipahu Intermediate, Aliamanu Intermediate, Moanalua Middle and Ewa Makai Middle schools met at Kualoa Ranch Educational Center to participate in the STEM Pre-Academy Water Quality Follow-Up Mini Workshop.

Dr. Marek Kirs, a researcher at the University of Hawaii Water Resources Research Center, shared his research data and insight on water quality in the streams and beaches in Hawaii.

Feature Project: iPad Enabled Digital Publishing @ Moanalua Middle School

At Moanalua Middle School, Language Arts teacher Kathy Nagaji and her team piloted a project with students entitled, “iPad Enabled Digital Publishing”. They drew inspiration from the October 2013 iPad workshop co-presented by STEM Pre-Academy, Hawaii Creative Media, and students from Searider Productions, Wai`anae High School.

The Leaves

MWeinhouse's picture

Aloha Edwin, Is there some way to take iMovies that are saved on a Google Drive and piece them together? I do have access to a Mac but I don't have airdrop due to firewalls.

Apr 29 2018 - 7:09am

Show all 4 comments
cheryl's picture

Hi - We have also contacted the digital media team and will have a response shortly. Thanks!

Apr 29 2018 - 7:49am
cheryl's picture

From digital media -

On her Mac, she can log into her Google account, then download the files onto the computer.

Apr 29 2018 - 8:50am
cheryl's picture

From Digital Media

To answer this question, all you would need to do is login to your Google Drive from the Mac computer and download the video clips. Once they are on the computer you can use iMovie or Final Cut Pro to stitch them together. All it takes is an Internet connection to the Google Drive.

Hope this helps her!

Apr 29 2018 - 9:41am
MWeinhouse's picture

Thank you. I will try. this week.

Apr 29 2018 - 4:29pm
randallshinn's picture

Good Afternoon! We are currently transitioning to the integrated NGSS for our middle school and we are looking for any examples and support for these standards. If you could help provide us with links, examples, experiments, etc. we would greatly appreciate it!
MS-PS2-1 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
MS-PS2-2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

Apr 20 2018 - 2:38pm

Show all 6 comments
sasakidy's picture

Aloha Randall!

Thanks for reaching out. Our team will compile some resources, examples and get back to you with a collective response.


Apr 20 2018 - 3:10pm
MWeinhouse's picture

Randall, We on Lana'i are supposed to be doing the same thing. What school are you at? I'd love to learn through what you discover. A question we are having here is how do you go from traditional to integrated? We only have 2 MS science teachers here and we can't do it alone. Kapua Weinhouse, 6th Gr Math & Science.

Apr 29 2018 - 7:06am
randallshinn's picture

Good Morning! I am currently at Ewa Makai Middle School and we are looking at the NGSS suggested integrated model. As a department, we are still making sense of the new standards since we will have to integrate physical, life, and earth. I'll be more than happy to share what we have once we meet as a department.

Apr 29 2018 - 7:33am
MWeinhouse's picture

Thanks so much!

Apr 29 2018 - 4:30pm
caroline.greenwood's picture

From John Constantinou and the STEM Pre-Academy Team:

Here are some resources your team may find useful as you move forward in NGSS implementation:

Going 3D with GRC:

This growing collection of 3-Dimensional lessons aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards were created across districts and states, including ongoing and significant contributions from Hawaii teachers. Phenomena-based instruction is a primary feature of the three-dimensional learning approach and requires a thoughtful integration of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), and Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) to explain the cause for how and why phenomena occur.

NGSS NSTA Hub Classroom Lessons:

These classroom resources are vetted by NSTA curators who recommend ways to adapt them to be more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources Select Standards by Topic and you'll see all the lessons submitted for the selected topic.

Middle School Preferred Integrated Course Model:

California developed a suggested sequence for integrating Life Science, Earth & Space Science, Physical Science, & Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science Standards throughout 6, 7, and 8th grades.

May 2 2018 - 4:54pm
MWeinhouse's picture

Thank you John. These are very helpful. Seeing what an integrated model looks like is especially helpful.

May 2 2018 - 9:14pm
MWeinhouse's picture

Hello Caroline, I just got your email about our shipment. I wanted to ask, since you mentioned your marine science education. Are there any websites that shows a map of turtles sightings, studies around the island of Lana`i? My students want to know where they are, how many, which beaches they prefer to lay eggs. They would like to use this information to understand why we see turtles at certain beaches and some ways we may be able to help them prosper. Thanks for all your help! --Kapua

Mar 14 2018 - 4:57pm

caroline.greenwood's picture

Hello Kapua,

Thanks for writing in! It’s great to hear that your students are pursuing a place-based project like this.

The tricky thing about studying sea turtles is that they are so highly migratory! Although we are lucky to have populations that remain local, they can travel thousands of miles, so it’s often very exciting to see the same individuals crop up. If your students are mainly interested in their locality, here are a couple great citizen science-based resources to get you started:

Hawaiian Hawksbill Conservation:

Lāna’i Marine Wildlife Project:

Although Polihua Beach on the north shore of Lāna’i was historically a popular nesting site, turtle catching and coastal development has threatened populations over the past few generations. Harassment issues like these are likely why tracking maps are so difficult to find. The critically endangered hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are still known to nest within the main Hawaiian Islands, but green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) now seem to prefer the undisturbed beaches of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Here’s a link to a report with anecdotal evidence of sea turtle population decline on Lāna’i — great for student discussion:

Many of us are familiar with the natal homing behavior widely observed in sea turtles, and upon closer study, scientists have discovered similarities in popular rookeries (breeding sites). Green sea turtle eggs tend to fare best in fine-grained, moist substrate; however, additional factors can be equally as important to hatchling success. For instance, hatchlings exhibit phototactic behavior in that they move toward light stimulus. In undeveloped areas, the brightest light source would typically be the moonlight's reflection off the water, but artificial lighting adjacent to the beach can disorient hatchlings in their journey to the ocean. Consideration of natal homing through the lens of natural selection can make for interesting opportunity for exploration: if individuals return to their natal beaches, how does this indicate beach “quality”? And how can “profiling” these beaches help us focus conservation efforts?

This is a great study that further discusses the roles of these environmental characteristics:

Although there aren’t many population maps available to the public, it would be really interesting to see your students draw from their own knowledge of where they have seen turtles and consider environmental factors such as:

Beach structure - slope, substrate particle size / moisture content, etc

Food availability - abundance of frondose macroalgae such as Amansia glomerata (limu līpepeiao) and Sargassum polyphyllum (limu kala)

There’s definitely lots of research still necessary to understand sea turtle ecology within the Hawaiian Islands, but perhaps your students will be the scientists to fill those gaps in the future!

I hope these notes get you off to a good start! Good luck!


Mar 19 2018 - 5:10pm
Haengbok's picture

Aloha Pre-Stem Academy Staff, I am currently using the laptop cart from pre- stem academy in my classroom, which the students are using for research, to write reports, Do online labs, create powerpoints, but the casing is deteriorating and leaving Black marks on the tables. Also they run out of power quickly and don't last through 3 periods before dying. Do you have any plans to replace them or repair them ? Any suggestions? Thanks Audrey

Nov 30 2017 - 8:44pm

sbrown's picture

Hi Audrey!

Thanks for letting us know about the laptops. Short term, when I've dealt with degrading rubber and plastics, I have generally just put a piece of tape or the bad bits. :) Super high tech!

For the other issues you are experiencing, we'll be in contact offline to see what we can do!

Thank you!!

Dec 8 2017 - 1:33pm
thayamichi's picture

Edwin and Steven,
My students printed out one part of the model over this weekend. It was successful printed as as you guided me to do so.
We would like to have your help on the printout. We wonder If we can removed as empty space we planned is filled up with plastics materials.
We also would to know if we can have an additional refill of plastic wire as it almost run out of it. Or would like to know where we can purchase it locally.
Thank you

Nov 27 2017 - 10:50am

sbrown's picture

Hi Tomo!

Thanks for stopping by our offices to show us the 3D printing fruits of your student's labor! I mentioned this while you were here, but often, you can rotate the model before printing (in your case, in the MakerBot software) so that it doesn't need to print any supporting material.

Here's an example of this on thingiverse.

If the ship had been printed sitting on it's landing gear, the printer would be forced to print supporting material under it because of the space between the bottom of the ship and the ground. But flipping it up, there is very little area that needs to be supported. I hope this made sense!

For purchase of filament, our goto place is plain-ol We do suggested getting MakerBot branded filament for the MakerBot printer, though--i really seems to make a difference in the final product and isn't really too much more expensive!

Thank you!

Dec 8 2017 - 1:40pm
sbrown's picture

Keeping with the Star Wars theme of my previous link, here's another great example of modifying the orientation of the model (and the model itself) to avoid printing supports.

And lastly, because it might help others, I'll relate another tidbit from our conversation. In the process of talking about the models that your students had designed, and specifically the pretty big size of those models, it was suggested that perhaps you make one of the design challenges to make a functional object, but also make it with the LEAST amount of filament. That requirement for the project will save time and money (in printing and filament) and also give the students another angle to explore.

Dec 8 2017 - 2:02pm

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