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STEM Pre-Academy

Welcome to the STEM Pre-Academy!

The STEM Pre-Academy fosters inspiration and relevance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics primarily through initiatives, such as teacher workshops, technical focus sessions, and collaborative interaction between middle school teachers and subject matter experts. This teacher-driven multidisciplinary program helps middle school public educators develop and implement research and technology based student curriculum including lessons, activities and projects.

The STEM Pre-Academy is a state-funded program, focused on public middle school teachers in Hawaii.


Latest News

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. Kathy and her team successfully sparked students to write in various genres by providing them an opportunity to create relevant, high level products and share them with a wider audience of their peers. The curriculum developed and implemented boosted student engagement and motivation to all-time heights.


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.

Edwin Colon gave an "Introduction to Water Quality" presentation to go over the technical aspects of the water quality parameters teachers tested that day. 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.

After the presentations, teachers headed out to the stream to to see how a field trip like this could benefit their students, and how they might incorporate it this upcoming school year.

Recent Leaves

randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

This is the finished project of the Aquaponics system that is fully functional and will remove the newspaper for sunlight throughout the day.

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Photo Credit: Classroom
Sep 24 2014 - 1:46pm
Show previous 7 comments
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

I love the stealth military grade look. Don't forget to cover the grow bed too, roots don't like sunlight. What kind of fish will be tested in the system? @ishiic

Sep 24 2014 - 2:22pm
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

Not sure what type of fish but will try with guppies first and I'll wrap the grow bed with something dark to prevent sunlight. Thanks for the tip!

Sep 24 2014 - 2:36pm
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Quick tip @randallshinn, you might want to fix your date stamp in your camera. This is a picture from the future...lol.

Sep 24 2014 - 3:22pm
lhashimoto's picture
lhashimoto

@randallshinn nice setup! clean and simple. did you and your students design and build the wood frame yourselves or was it part of a kit?

Sep 25 2014 - 8:23am
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

@lhasimoto: The design was from the aquaponic workshop that I am currently taking and we built it this past weekend but I am looking into to see if I can get funds to have each group create their own system and frame.

Sep 25 2014 - 11:55am
lhashimoto's picture
lhashimoto

Nice! This is really cool. That would be awesome if they could design their own system and frame. Sometimes building from kits gets me in the mindset that I can ONLY make it with a particular set of material/tools. The way you're doing it really gives them the power to design and create anything, WITH anything. Any size fish tank they use, and size/shape grow bed they use...they could make their own frame/system!

Sep 25 2014 - 2:23pm
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

@lhashimoto: If I can find a company, business, or grant that is willing to support my goal of helping these students learn about sustainability and incorporate STEM initiatives, then that would be awesome. If you hear of anyone wanting to donate, let me know too!

Sep 25 2014 - 2:50pm
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

@edwin....this is my small setup that I am experimenting with but having issues with my bell siphon. If it works well, I'll see if I can get a grant to get the materials, equipment, etc. for my students to design, construct, and experiment with.

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Photo Credit: classroom
Sep 24 2014 - 9:54am
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

@randallshinn your #aquaponics set up looks good. Can you send me a close-up picture of your home made siphon? Maybe I can help you figure out why is not working. One quick recommendation on your aquaponics, try using dark materials that block the light and prevent an algae problem. Looking forward to see how this project evolves.

Sep 24 2014 - 12:52pm
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

@edwinjcolon....I took the picture of it empty to show everyone the materials used. I wrapped the aquarium with black construction paper and will experiment with the different types of fishes.


BTW: I just fixed the siphon and it works properly now. The problem was the height of the siphon in relation to the PVC pipe. I'll post the updated completed aquaponics unit soon.

Sep 24 2014 - 1:20pm
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Great. Thank for sharing. Let me know if you encounter any other problems.

Sep 24 2014 - 2:16pm
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Aloha @randallshinn and @tosborn, How are the #aquaponics projects going? Any updates? Everything is still working properly? Let us know if there is anything we can do to help. Mahalo

Sep 23 2014 - 11:47am
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

I just got a small system running using a 10 gallon fish tank but having issues with my siphon that is home made. I will post the picture soon. As for the bigger unit, I'm going to start using Terra's room and transport it to another room for students to use.


I've been working with Master "DAVID WONG" from Ewa Makai in helping me start the system and Derek Chow from Campbell. Will continue to communicate and work with them.


In addition, I need some points when it comes to hydroponics. What type of fertilizer will i need?

Sep 24 2014 - 8:59am
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

BTW: We will be cleaning the entire system and restarting it. Will give you a call later.

Sep 24 2014 - 9:05am
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Great to hear that you are working with @davidwong and Derek Chow. Let me know if you need help when restarting the system.


In my #Hydroponic system i use normally two different fertilizers. The first one is a general use but mostly for leafy greens called Maxigrow (approximately $18 per 2 pounds) from General Hydroponics. The second one is a little more complicated to use since is a mix of three ingredients and is it has to be ordered online (not available in Hawaii stores). I can give you more information about the second one if you like but my recommendation is to start with the Maxigrow. Both fertilizers are water soluble designed for hydroponics.


Let me know if you have more questions.

Sep 24 2014 - 1:07pm
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

We probably going to need help with the restart of that aquaponic system because it is so large. Will keep you posted.

Sep 24 2014 - 3:46pm
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Aloha @pyerxa, Did you still need help with your Weather Station?

edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Aloha all, just wanted to share one of the hydroponics system that I have being testing. This is the Hydroponic Tower, 28 plants growing in a 2' by 3' foot print. Its a full hydroponic set up (no soil) and only consumes 10 watts of energy per hour when used outside.The following plants were in this first batch: Baby Romaine Lettuce, Butter-head Lettuce, Blush lettuce, Spicy Greens, and Tai Basil. All seem to grow well in the system. The lettuce was ready to harvest in 30-40 days. The attached Gif is a collection of pictures from day one until the first harvest 30 days later. Comment below, I'll be glad to answer any questions. Mahalo #Hydroponics @ishiic

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Photo Credit: Edwin J.Colon
Sep 23 2014 - 8:09am
sbrown's picture
sbrown

That's fantastic--and the lettuce was delicious! I have a silly question though, why hydroponics vs regular soil? Does the energy use trump the benefits?

Sep 23 2014 - 10:58am
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Personally, Hydroponics is my favorite way to plant. But that just me. The first thing about hydroponic growing is how clean it looks. There is no need to worry about soil contact diseases or slugs. The only pest problem with this tower was a few leaf miners and they were controlled by spraying the plants with Neem oil (organic). To the point, why mention the power consumption and the area? It could be a good analysis opportunity for students to calculate the cost of planting, in this case, 28 leafy greens plants in both methods. In one hand regular soil needs constant watering and conditioning between planting. The hydroponic system has only used 30 gallons of water with fertilizer over 45 days and counting. Accounting the cost of water vs electricity in Hawaii, hydroponics can be cost effective against regular soil planting. Another point to consider is the land. How much land is needed to grow 28 plants? I will leave this question for the teachers and students...


I hope this answers your question, mahalo!

Sep 23 2014 - 11:29am
randallshinn's picture
randallshinn

I like that idea! Need to discuss and work with you on my aquaponic unit that my students will take on.

Sep 24 2014 - 9:00am
sbrown's picture
sbrown

Great list for programming resources for kids (and adults!).

sbrown's picture
sbrown

The 2014 HaSTA Conference has begun!

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Photo Credit: Cheryl Ishii
sbrown's picture
sbrown

There are a number of great things about this video, but what really stood out for me is this man's ability to teach with such clarity.

For fun, come up with your own explanation as to why dead batteries bounce before you watch. My guess was so very wrong.

pyerxa's picture
pyerxa

@edwinjcolon
Aloha Edwin - started another class on the Rocket Engineering Challenge. This time I changed it a bit due to a bunch of problems that I am having with Rocksim.
Made the design challenge broad...perhaps too broad. Students need to create a projectile with a new, innovative technology (preferably to the landing system but are not limited to landing systems). I thought they would come up with some crazy, great ideas but I think the topic may be too broad. There are 3 groups. 2 groups have no big ideas. They're thinking of making "lipstick" and "mascara" rockets that launch glitter. What? I have one group with a lot of ideas but still no one big idea.

Sep 2 2014 - 11:12pm
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pyerxa's picture
pyerxa

The group has a couple great students. I told them if they can dream something up (even if they don't know how to make it happen), I could bring in an engineer to help. Tomorrow will be their last day to dream and get some ideas on paper. Do you think you have any time in the afternoon on Thurs, Fri, or Mon. to come in and discuss their ideas? Period 4 is usually sometime after 12. I can give you the exact times if you think you may be able to possibly come in. Any chance?

Sep 2 2014 - 11:13pm
pyerxa's picture
pyerxa

(continued from above)

Sep 2 2014 - 11:13pm
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Aloha @pyerxa, Friday or Monday works. Can you provide and exact time frame on either days to lock it in my calendar? I'm looking forward to see your students ideas!

Sep 3 2014 - 8:49am
pyerxa's picture
pyerxa

Friday would be best. Period 4 on Friday is from 1:43-2:33. If cannot, Monday I have period 4 from 11:22-12:12. Mahalo Nui! BTW, it was perfect when you told them how much you would get paid as an engineer for an hour consult. Gets them thinking. I will make sure they have some ideas sketched out and ready to share with you. Mahalo!

Sep 3 2014 - 9:19am
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

I will be there Friday at 1:30 pm. If you have some of your student ideas, please send them to better prepare myself for their questions. Mahalo.

Sep 3 2014 - 2:59pm
pyerxa's picture
pyerxa

Gosh, my students are really having a hard time with this. I think I would have been better off just having them focus on the height. Here is what they've got.

1 team making a hula rocket (with hula skirt fins & a flower parachute) - they don't need help

1 team wants to have a shuttle like thing come from it. They can't figure out how to put it inside, so they are just thinking of making it break in half and the rocket will have wings - just need to figure out how to land both pieces. They wanted to know if there's some type of remote they can attach to fly the rocket. This group has a huge imagination but doesn't know what to do with it. Basically they want to turn it into a jet type thing.

1 group (the higher level group) wants to make some type of helicopter landing system that pops up from the tail. Their picture is strange.

1 single kid wants to make some type of helicopter landing system, too.


Honestly, I thought this group of kids would have more ideas and I'm having trouble with where to lead them. Two HUGE focuses are having a helicopter landing system and also having the rocket launch some type of jet. I showed them the video of the kid that made the helicopter but they did not take to it much.


My hope in you coming is to give them more of an engineers perspective. It's almost impossible to prepare for.

They really think this is a grant, though (just like the last group of students). The SPEC chart says it must go 125+ feet with an A8-3 motor, must have an innovative technology (preferably landing system) and be 1-4 oz.


Anything you can help me with would be great. Just having you stop in sparks their ideas.


I showed them these mini solar panels with super small motors I have. Tried to get them to apply that somehow but they did not take to it.

Sep 4 2014 - 3:08pm
edwinjcolon's picture
edwinjcolon

Thanks @pyerxa, this gives me an idea of what your students have in mind. I will try to provide some ideas on how to design and build some of them and guide those who still don't know what to do. See you at 1:30pm!

Sep 5 2014 - 10:01am
himbed's picture
himbed

HIMB would like to announce the continuation of science inquiry education field trip opportunities to the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology. We are currently scheduling reservations for the 2014-2015 school year ending May 2015.

We offer marine science-inquiry based experiential fieldtrips available for high school science classes on the following topics:

Ocean Acidification—using coral skeletons and manipulating pH with CO2 to measure the effects on water hardness and calcium carbonate dissolution.

Bioacoustics—using hydrophones to listen and analyze the sounds of invertebrate interactions.

Fertilization—using collector urchins to test the effects of water quality on fertilization success and embryonic development