Our Islands, Our Future

Students in kindergarten through 5th grade at Pukalani Elementary School are enjoying, even getting excited about, science these days, according to Curriculum Coordinator Jasmine Domingo. So much so, that more than 100 of them have been engaging in extracurricular, school-sponsored science camps, in part because of financial assistance from the Maui Economic Development Board Ke Alahele Education Fund. Last fall, MEDB awarded a $4,945 grant to Domingo and her school to purchase “Engineering is Elementary” curriculum and kits for the 500-plus pupils at the Upcountry school.

The purpose behind the new science curriculum and kits is to expose students to the many fields of science and increase their interest in the subject. “Oh yes, the kids are very excited about science,” Domingo said about the impact of the Ke Alahele grant at her school. “They say things like ‘This is so much fun’ and ‘I can’t wait to do science.’“ The mission of “Engineering is Elementary” curriculum and kits is to foster engineering and technological literacy among all elementary-aged students. Each unit is introduced by a storybook about a child who solves a problem through engineering and science. The material and exercises in the kits are all research-based and classroom-tested.

Domingo, a teacher with 22 years of experience and seven as a curriculum coordinator, said her school hopes to build confidence and provide encouragement to teachers to use science as a means to teach students about the world around them. “Science can be time-consuming, especially for elementary teachers who have to teach different subjects,” Domingo said. “Anytime you can make it easier for teachers to teach science, it’s a good thing.” Already one teacher has initiated her own science-based lesson plan. “I feel excited because I see that both teachers and students are seeing the effects of science in their everyday lives. Everyone’s learning.”