Education Inspiration: How superheroes empower young students

Superheroes are everywhere nowadays. What if you could use their popularity to captivate students in the classroom?
Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 9:38 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Super heroes are everywhere nowadays.

The Avengers have dominated the box office.

What if you could use their popularity to captivate students in the classroom?

A number of schools are doing it, including Kamiloiki Elementary School.

“Good morning boys and girls,” Justine Cooper says, as she addresses her class. “This morning we’ve got a new mystery box from Super Powers Academy. I don’t know what’s inside.”

What’s inside is a mission centered around a specific super power.

It may be mind reading, super sight or what Cooper’s class is studying today: flight.

First they develop the storyline.

Abby McClellan reads from a comic book which was included in the mystery box, “Freddy decided to make a slingshot. He found a big rubber band and set up between 2 trees. Woosh! I’m flying!”

The story is about Freddie Tryagain. Freddie’s entire family can fly but Freddie cannot, so through trial-and-error he has to create his own way.

The students are captivated from the very start. And the whole super power element definitely adds to it.

“I think that’s really cool,” Amari Chang said. “Because sometimes you have a class that you like something and the rest of the class doesn’t like it. So having a class that likes the same thing you like, that’s pretty cool.”

After reading about Freddie, the students jump into their mission: learning to fly.

The box comes with materials to create a glider.

As the children put the aircraft together, they’re encouraged to modify the design to increase performance.

McClellan adds that, “One area that I don’t necessarily get curriculum for that I know is so important is teaching them how to be humans that never give up, they try their best, they know how to regulate their emotions, they know how to collaborate with their peers and that is really what’s going to set them up for success in the future, in their future careers.”

But this isn’t just a character-building exercise. When they’re done, they head downstairs to test their projects.

Unfortunately, nobody’s plane goes very far, so they have to tweak the gliders and apply some science to their models.

Kai Weinstock explains what he did.

“I put two metal (pieces) on this to increase the drag to make it go higher. I also cut this to decrease the drag to make it go farther.”

Again, there are other lessons centered around other super powers.

Cooper’s class is exploring “Super Sight,” which teaches students to see inward within themselves to understand and manage their emotions.

They study the brain and even read up on Ghandi who they call a real-life super hero.

“Super Power Academy will cover social studies, literacy, STEM, so that covers science, technology, engineering and math so it kind of covers the whole, our whole subject criteria," Cooper said.

Cooper and McClellan say one of the best parts about the Super Power Academy program is that it’s helped them reach all students — even those who aren’t usually engaged, which they say is “super” in itself.

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