National Career Academies Coalition
Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation
Roots + STEM
A cradle-to-career guide to STEM in Hawaii
Seeds of a science center - The Garden Island Newspaper, December 22, 2019
All three Kauai public high schools are transforming education by moving to career academies and career connected learning. It has been shown in other school districts across the nation and around the world that this education model better prepares students with the skills they need for successful careers and pursing college.
The Founders of the Kauai Community Science Center, KCSC, see an opportunity to support the exciting educational transformation happening on Kauai and grow science awareness and literacy in the community at the same time. Science is part of every industry sector and the rich natural environment on Kauai. However, Science is not a strength for Hawaii Students.
According to the 2015 Nation’s Report Card on Education, Hawaii is ranked 45th and 47th among the 50 States for student test scores at 4th and 8th grades levels respectively.1 Based on Hawaii P-20 data from 2018, on average only 17% of Hawaii high school seniors met or exceeded the college readiness benchmark in the ACT Science Assessment. Another science assessment from 2016 has a statewide average of 35% of students being at “met or exceeding standards”.2 This data illuminates an opportunity.
There are successful students, teachers and impactful science programs in Hawaii, but we need more. KCSC is working to build on the successes and find new ways to ensure that Hawaii is effectively preparing all students to be ready for the career and/or college of their choosing.
No matter the career aspirations of students, there is an element of science within that career pathway. The role of the KCSC is not to create more scientists, but to support development of well-rounded and informed professionals who are aware of the role that science plays in their everyday. Having a science literate electorate will also support a community that is prepared with the tools needed to make the best decisions for the future of Kauai, Hawaii and beyond.
KCSC is a community partner providing opportunities for students to learn about science and also explore their career interests at the same time. With Career Academies students will be exploring potential careers earlier. KCSC will connect students with professionals in the careers they are interested in. The students will be charged with working with professionals to develop a display/hands on activity on a scientific principal that is important to that career. KCSC will also support professionals by providing a facilitated opportunity to engage with students and support Career Connected Learning.
The student generated display/hands on activity will be shared with the public. Families, friends, visitors and the whole community can learn from the displays. Students will gain valuable experience and skills working with the professionals, learning about the career, developing the displays/hands on activities and learning about science. The professionals will get recognition at the public events for their role in supporting the students and the schools. KCSC will support all of the stakeholders through the process and seek additional resources and collaborations as needed.
KCSC also plans to offer student led activities on a wide array of science topics for other students, the community and visitors. KCSC will provide the curriculum and training for the student “teachers” and the student “teachers” will gain leadership, communication, teaching and science skills. KCSC is building relationships with other science centers in Hawaii and around the world to learn from the global science community and provide even more learning opportunities for our students, educators, community and visitors.
The goal of the KCSC is to feature the diversity of science on Kauai via student generated content and student led activities. KCSC supports the development of students across every career pathway with improved science knowledge while increasing science literacy across the community. An exciting element is that students and their interests will be driving this organization.
Kauai Community Science Center supports sharing of science and technology with the community that is driven and inspired by students and teachers on Kauai. The content and experiences are enhanced with input from professionals on Kauai and beyond. The process requires relationship building, collaboration, communication, sharing of expertise and knowledge, and mutual respect to name a few. These are all critical skills for our students to master to ensure a vital and thriving community now and in the future.
A more science literate community will also be better prepared to understand and solve issues associated with climate change, food production, development and renewable energy to name a few of the challenges facing Kauai, Hawaii and the rest of the world. Career Academies will transform education on Kauai and produce students better prepared to excel in their chosen careers or educational pursuits beyond high school. KCSC is excited to be a community partner in this educational transformation.