In 2015, the College of Education Department of Curriculum Studies will offer a new concentration within its master of education (MEd) in curriculum studies program, called STEMS². The adapted acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, social sciences, and sense of place. Designed specifically for in-service teachers and informal educators, the concentration was created with input from an advisory panel of professors and researchers from UH Mānoa and Hawaiʻi Community College, classroom teachers, and community members.

Tara O’Neill, Director of the School of Teacher Education (STE) Secondary program, explained that current educational models do not clearly identify the critical roles that place and ones sense of place play in the teaching and learning of traditional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). O’Neill serves as a STEMS² co-director with Joe Zilliox, Director of the STE Master of Education in Teaching.

“In order to authentically be engaged in STEM education, students must understand the context of the lesson, and this contextual understanding is based in the social sciences and our understanding of place,” O’Neill said.

The integrated concentration uses a place-based learning approach to address real-world problem solving with a focus on students’ development in relation to their role as local and global citizens. Participants will emulate the processes of professionals in a variety of fields and design solutions to problems in their own communities. The MEd program can be completed in thirteen months through fall and spring online courses and two in-person summer sessions.

The STEMS² theme for 2015–2016 is human ecology, which examines the complex relationship between human beings and their natural, social, and built environments. Connecting teaching and research from across the UH System and community partners, participants will embark on a series of learning journeys in collaboration with life sciences, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, and community-based Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners.

Applications for 2015 will be accepted on a rolling basis from December 5, 2014–March 1, 2015 or until the first cohort is filled (limited to 30 participants). For more information about the program, please visit http://bit.ly/Stems2COE.

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