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.
Mad Science Takes Root at Wheeler Middle School - Growing into the NGSS
Traditional science instruction has alternated between classroom lectures on content and labs, where the concepts are explored through experiments. While this method can effectively deliver a science curriculum, it may limit opportunities to explore concepts through a real-world lens. With full implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) mandate drawing closer, educators are transitioning to a multifaceted (three-dimensional, if you will) approach rooted in student involvement and experiential learning.
With STEM Pre-Academy support, Wheeler Middle School has begun this transition. This school year, William Falzarano and his 7th grade students have been applying engineering design process to their life science content. Using elements of the engineering design process and the engineering notebook, students individually designed mini-hydroponics containers to grow heads of Anuenue lettuce. Falzarano shares that “the students benefit from learning to maintain a[n engineering] notebook, creating something they are responsible for, and taking care of a living thing.”
The 9 week germination-to-harvest process is designed to fit into an academic quarter. The simplicity of the non-circulating Kratky method creates an ideal balance between content immersion and time effectiveness; after initial setup, students monitored their plant’s progress regularly, but did not need to work excessively to maintain its growth. The largely self-sustaining system freed up the majority of the quarter to cover other content, and could also be used as a springboard for teaching other material. This kind of flexibility makes the project both scalable and adaptable to many different classroom situations.
Hydroponics in the classroom allows for a tangible learning experience integrating life science principles deeply rooted in earth science, environmental phenomena and sustainability practices. The simplicity of these student-designed systems encourages pupils to share their learning at home, and may help to bridge the gap between school and family support systems. The call for recycled containers was met with enthusiastic response from parents and school community—parents endorsed the project by supplying enough containers to support implementation for the majority of the school year.
Problem-solving project opportunities such as this help students develop critical skills and confidence that better prepare them for life beyond middle school. After two quarters of successful implementation, Leighton Nakamoto, Wheeler Middle School Vice Principal remarked that “the students really connect with the creativity and design process… it’s important to allow them to engage with the subject in a way that better prepares them to effectively pursue their interests.”
With Mad Science and the Anuenue lettuce in good hands, Wheeler Middle School looks forward to future opportunities for hands-on learning and the engineering design process in the classroom.
Want to learn more? Contact us!
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!
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!
(And also have a look at the video trailer that was produced!)
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 are on the rise in classrooms. Here's a primer on getting started. Read more...
Good Evening! Are there any other middle schools (grades 6-8) on Oahu or any of the other islands that are using the integrated NGSS model in their science department? If so, would you be willing to discuss how your school unpacked and bundled the standards? The process that your department took to get to where you are? The potential roadblocks that you ran into?
If you rather have the discussion over the phone, I'm all for it.
If not, I would appreciate any contact and contact information that you would be willing to share.
May 7 2019 - 10:39pm
May 9 2019 - 3:58pm
Thanks for allowing me to use the Sphero's in preparation for the Solar Sprint Challenge!
Here are just a few pictures and description of how I used it
Wave Tank (Wind Powered)
Wave Tank (Paddle Powered)