Making the grade in Hawaii's science classrooms - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Making the grade in Hawaii's science classrooms

Kelsie Misech Kelsie Misech
Nolan Kawano Nolan Kawano
Bruce Coppa Bruce Coppa
Daniel Inouye Daniel Inouye

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The numbers aren't good. In the Nation's Report Card, Hawaii's public school students lag far behind their peers on the mainland when it comes to science, but there's a renewed effort afoot to get students excited and energized about the subject.

In Ms. Nakakura's physics class, these Roosevelt students are learning the basics of solar energy. In two weeks, they'll get to test more experiments in a new science lab two doors down.

"I think people are going to be more interested in it because they want to have that class," says Roosevelt senior, Kelsie Misech. "I mean, compare that to our classroom. It's a lot better!"

The new lab couldn't have been renovated without funding from the non-profit Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation - which provided 250 thousand dollars. PSHF is doing the same for 10 other schools on Oahu.

"What we wanted to do is really just demonstrate what can happen if there's a partnership with the state and the community - where the state actually provides the science labs and the teachers, and we come in with the programs, like the training," says PSFH president Nolan Kawano.

The push in science is sorely needed. The National Assessment of Educational Progress released a report card recently, and in it, Hawaii's science test scores fell far below the rest of the country. For example, eighth grade students in 41 states scored better than Hawaii's eighth graders. And 39 states scored better than our fourth graders.

Teachers at Moanalua high school hope their new, state-of-the-art science lab will inspire students to explore more on the subject. Senator Daniel Inouye went to see the lab for himself - since he's behind an initiative called "Hawaii 3-Rs" - repair, remodel, and restore the state's public schools. He liked what he saw. "It makes you feel good to know that the money is well-spent," says the Senator.

Hawaii 3-Rs chairman, Bruce Coppa adds, "A dirty place, a messy place, a busted up place, just doesn't inspire you, so I think it's important that you have things that are up-to-date."

The Hawaii 3-Rs program combines state, federal, and private funds with volunteer efforts to get these kinds of renovations done. Like PSHF, 3-Rs is also pouring money into labs across the state - hoping to raise our students' science knowledge to a grade A.

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