Collaboration between local K-12 schools, DKICP benefits budding engineers

October 21, 2013

Sustainable energy teaching materials are being delivered this week to educators in the Hilo-Waiākea Complex to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning experiences in classrooms at all grade levels thanks to a contribution from a federally funded program in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP).

Equipment valued at about $7,500, including photovoltaic (solar) panels, GPS devices and scientific probeware, is being distributed to the teachers who have attended the most recent in a series of workshops at the UH Hilo campus over the last three years. The workshops are part of a series offered under a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (NSF-ERC) outreach grant to K-12 teachers in the complex area, led by Ken Morris, professor and chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. This grant also pays expenses and provides stipends to the teachers who attend the workshops.

“This collaboration between the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and DKICP shows America’s educational system at its best, working together on a common goal to expose students to their career choices at the right time in their educational path,” Morris said. “We’re pleased to help support these STEM teachers who are responsible for inspiring their students to pursue needed and rewarding careers.”

At the latest engineering workshops in May, two separate programs offered different levels of training for elementary (K-5) teachers and secondary (6 –12) teachers. Over the course of the three-day training, teachers practiced implementing lesson plans designed to engage students in the scientific inquiry process and in developmentally appropriate engineering design projects aligned to learning standards for the targeted grade levels.

Elementary school teachers created solar water heaters, wind turbines, and a model house using both batteries and solar panels as sources of energy. Secondary teachers explored ways to use GPS devices and probeware to measure temperature, salinity, C02 levels and other properties of soil and water. At all levels, technology and mathematics were integrated into meaningful hands-on learning experiences with real-life applications.

Eric Hagiwara, a math teacher at Waiākea High School, said, “As a result of attending the workshop, I have been able to utilize engineering-based lesson plans and the students have responded well. The comment I most often hear from the students is, ‘Now I know how this math can be used in real life.’ This clearly indicates that the application is an important aspect of teaching math. I will be using this lesson plan as often as possible.”

Plans are underway for future teacher workshops in which approximately $5,000 worth of robotics and science kits will be provided to participants.

See more news from 2013.