MEd Curriculum Studies: STEMS²

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Traditionally, STEM has been defined as the integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics via project-based problem solving curriculum (Rogers & Portsmore, 2004; Gutstein 2003; Knaupp et al., 2002).  Made evident from research in the field of science, math and STEM education (see Bang & Medina, 2010; Duschl, Schweingruber & Shouse, 2007; Greenfield, 1996 & Kanahele, 1986) our current educational models do not make explicit the role place and ones sense of place plays in the teaching and learning of STEM. In addition, to authentically engage students in real world problem solving supported in the STEM education literature, students must understand the context of the problem. This contextual understanding is based in the social sciences (i.e., social studies, language arts). As such, we argue for the inclusion of social sciences and sense of place (S2) to the traditional STEM education construct. 

STEMS2 education is real-world problem solving via project-based and place-based learning within a social context that integrate science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the social sciences while focusing on youths’ development in relation to their sense of self as local and global citizens. Teaching from a STEMS2 perspective entails place-based, project-based learning where students emulate the processes of professionals in are variety of fields (i.e., historians, engineers, etc.) to design solutions to real world problems in their local and global communities.

Program Learning Outcomes 

Cohort Theme



Collage of activities

Type Name Updated
Brochure/Information STEMS² Flyer Last Updated
July 2017


Program Learning Outcomes

STEMS2 program cohort members will engage in cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary experiential learning environments working with instructors across multiple fields of study (education, life science, American studies, Hawaiian studies, engineering, etc..).  

  • Understanding of STEMS2 as an educational pedagogy
  • Understanding of STEMS2 Content and Process specific to the cohort theme (i.e. Human Ecology)
  • Confidence designing and evaluating curriculum
  • Confidence in bringing context into classroom/connecting classroom to “place” (i.e. Engaging community networks)
  • Skill in application of inquiry/engineering design process
  • Developing and articulating Education Leadership skills
  • Blending teacher/learner role – application of the concept of “A‘o”

A‘o - “to teach and to learn” in a reciprocal relationship where at all times ones views themselves as being a learner and a teacher.  In this program we aim for participants to see themselves and their students as both teachers and learners thus shifting views of roles and content authority structures in their learning contexts.

Cohort Theme

Cohort 5 (Summer 2019 – Summer 2020) explores the complex relationship between human beings and their natural, social and built environments.  We will pursue this theme through multi-disciplinary work connecting teaching and research from across the UH Manoa campus (i.e., life sciences, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and Hawaiian studies).  Under this theme we will explore indigenous knowledge, practices and values (i.e., the design, function and regulation of traditional fish ponds) infused with the development of 21st Century skills via multiple experiencial learning experiences called “Learning Journys”.  Based on experiences prior to and during Summer 2019 and Fall 2019, students will design STEMS2 units to be implemented in a learning context during Spring 2020.

Sample Schedule from Summer 2016 Learning Journeys

Date Activity
June 27 Introduction to the program, Community Building, Artifact sharing.
June 28 Fishpond service project – service project, Looking at the world through the eyes of others.
June 29 Classroom day – look back at experiences and make explicit the content in the spaces, look at land shift.
June 30 Jim Foley 3-Day HOT researchers present on current research, get kits.  Ocean conveyor belt and then ocean conveyor belt 3.
July 1 Data collection – Coconut island, plankton tow, nutrient analysis, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology tour, snorkeling, lecture.
July 2 Participate in STEMS2 Cohort 1 graduation ceremony and ocean acidification
July 3 FREE
July 4 Holiday
July 5 Engineering design principals
July 6 Group Travel, workday
July 7-9 Mauka-Makai learning Journey, sustainability practices on land with service practice, Heiau, learn sail from kids
July 11       


July 12 Astronomy and cultural practices top of Mauna Kea
July 13 Cultural explorations – sacred lake and issues of telescopes
July 14 Volcano national park
July 15 Classroom day – assessment, evaluations, prepare for next two semesters. Closing and departure

*Accomodations will be made for those who are not physically able to participate in all learning activities.


Summer 2019 (3 week Intensive in-person June 24 - July 13)

  • EDCS 440 Curriculum Implications of Multicultural Education
  • EDCS 450 Methods and Materials in Science
  • EDCS 640M Seminar Interdisciplinary

Fall 2019 (online) - Online classes once a week. Day and time to be determined based on geographic location of participants.

  • EDCS 606 Research Curriculum & Teaching
  • EDCS 622G School Curriculum K-14

Spring 2020 (online) - Online classes once a week. Day and time to be determined based on geographic location of participants.

  • EDCS 632 Qualitative Research
  • EDCS 653F Mathematics in the Schools Integrated

Summer 2020  (3 week Intensive in-person June 8 - June 27 (Graduation on June 27) - Dates are subject to change based on local and national DOE calendars)

  • EDCS 640J Seminar in Science
  • EDCS 667G K-14 Seminar in Curriculum
  • EDCS 654 Ethnomathematics

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