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Hirono Announces Federal Funding to Support the Development and Recruitment of STEM Teachers in Hawaii

WASHINGTON, D.C.–  Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced today that the University of Hawaii will receive over $350,000 in grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support the training and recruitment of future science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers. This announcement is part of the Senator’s ongoing commitment to boosting STEM education and workforce opportunities in Hawaii.

“To ensure that Hawaii students have the tools they need to succeed in STEM careers, we must grow our pipeline of qualified, quality teachers adept in these skills,” said Senator Hirono. “Maintaining a strong STEM workforce is essential to securing high paying jobs and growing Hawaii’s economy. By supporting a comprehensive approach to STEM education, this funding will help strengthen the capacity of Hawaii’s educators as they work to mentor and develop our future leaders.”

As part of the grant funding, the University of Hawaii at Manoa in a collaboration across the UH System will establish pathways for undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields to pursue a double major with secondary education, in order to introduce teaching to students early on in their college careers. In addition, funding was awarded to the UH MakerSTEM project to engage college students and high school teachers in biological research and modern STEM learning techniques. The project remodels the STEM college learning experience, allowing students to build creative, collaborative partnerships that parallel professional practices. Focused on fostering hands-on learning, the project:

  • Will help pre-service teachers in Hawaii to develop proficiency in scientific investigation and design practices; and
  • To become innovators of student-driven active learning.

“The goal of the MakerSTEM project is to provide an opportunity for pre-service teachers to engage in authentic scientific inquiry to help them better facilitate student learning in scientific principles and practices and meet Next Generation Science Standards learning objectives,” said Dr. Judy D. Lemus, a faculty education specialist at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. “This research experience is something that is not readily available to many early career teachers. With this funding, student teachers training in secondary science education at UH will be able to design and carry out their own science investigations in the MakerLab at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and bring those experiences directly into their classrooms to improve student learning in science.”

"We are honored to receive NSF funding. Both the "UH MakerSTEM" and the "Building Sustainable Pathways to STEM Teaching" will enable the Institute for Teachers Education (ITE) - Secondary Programs to engage in innovative partnerships with STEM programs across the UH System in order to support the recruitment, preparation and retention of exceptional STEM teachers in the state of Hawaii,” said Dr. Tara O'Neill, director of the ITE - Secondary Programs and recipient of the 2017 University of Hawaii Board of Regents Medal for Teaching Excellence. “We are particularly excited that the UH MakerSTEM funding will enable faculty from ITE Secondary and the UH Institute for Marine Biology to engage pre-service science educators in authentic, place-based, science investigations and secondary (grades 6-12) curriculum design."

For more information about the UH MakerSTEM project, click here.