HTA Oahu 6th graders have spent the year preparing for their big space mission that they went on yesterday at the Challenger Center Hawaii. The mission, Rendezvous with Comet Halley, was a hands-on challenge that tested the communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills of Mrs. Terhune’s 6th grade students.
The Challenger Center Hawaii welcomed our HTA Oahu 6th graders into their facility for a once in a lifetime experience of hands-on collaborative space exploration. Per the Challenger Center Hawaii’s website, they describe this experience as a “fully-integrated Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) program based on core concepts that enhance their aptitude in a wide variety of foundational life skills, including cooperative reasoning, effective communication, and confidence under pressure.”
Students were each assigned jobs that were imperative to the success of the mission. Each student embraced his or her role and had responsibilities in both the Mission Control and the Space Station of the Challenger Center. After entering the airlock chamber, the students were so shocked to see such an impressive Space Station. Here, they applied skills that they’ve learned the classroom in order to gather data, conduct experiments and ensure the safety of their fellow astronauts. Students in Mission Control analyzed data and helped to troubleshoot problems and emergency situations aboard the Space Center through creative problem-solving and collaboration. Following strict protocols, students were given tasks to complete during their mission, with the ultimate goal finding Comet Halley’s location and assembling a probe to send through its tail in order to collect samples from space.
“The Challenger Center Hawaii experience represents the very best of learning because it brings out the very best of our kids,” says Mrs. Terhune. She goes on to explain, “as a teacher, sure, I love that the curriculum is rigorous. The content lessons blend physical science, space investigation, scientific discovery and team collaboration - but its collaborative, inquiry-based approach makes all the difference. I appreciate that, as much as students learn, they always walk away eager - and empowered - to learn more. The culminating space station simulation honors the importance of each individual and further inspires each person to be a better member of a team...no matter what the mission. Whenever I ask the kids what they enjoy, however, their answer is always much more complicated: We love it because it’s FUN.”
And, yes, it is fun. As learning should be, since, after all, the very best learning always is fun.
Kristen Wolf, Director of Communications
Some tips for future HTA students would be always try to do your school work early (if possible), manage your time wisely, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, and never stand in the hallways in between classes.
A good source that helped me survive high school.
When I first started 8th grade at HTA, I was a complete mess. Transferring from a traditional public school to a school like HTA can be difficult for any student. In order to strive at HTA, you are need to have a great deal of independence and responsibility. Otherwise, you will get lost in an overflowing surplus of assignments and past due work. This is what happened to me my first year.
However, after getting some help from my teachers and peers, I learned to manage my time better and not procrastinate on my assignments, thus, providing less stress upon myself. Now, as a senior in high school, I can look back at all the progress I have made at this school. As a person, I have gained a wide sense of knowledge and confidence from HTA that I am eternally grateful for. I recommend anyone who is looking for something new to try HTA. Even if it’s only for a short period of time, the experience is incredible for students of any age. Overall, I am pleased to have been a part of this school.
Coral Garcia, Senior 2017
We are proud to announce that Connor, HTA Oahu 7th grader, placed 2nd in the Junior Essay Division at the State History Day State Competition held at Windward Community College this past weekend. His win qualified him for the National History Day (NHD) competition to be held at the University of Maryland in June. Connor is HTA's first ever national qualifier! Here's a photo of Connor with the National History Day Director.
Melanie Nagasako, eHTA Teacher
Maui HTA Gardening Club members met with Professor Cynthia at her UH Master Gardener Lab on Friday. This was her culminating activity for her budding HTA student gardeners, who she has guided and advised for the past semester. This initiative started when Mr. Wu needed more ideas for engaging student clubs for our very first year at our Learning Center. Previously, we had no real "home" as we were just renting classroom space from Maui Community School for Adults. But our new space is located in the heart of Wailuku town, a sort of concrete jungle with very little green space. In fact, the only view we have out of our Learning Center is one of the municipal parking lot.
We wanted to make our students feel welcome and to introduce some greenery to our school. On the side of our building is a dirt corridor and soon dreams and images of flowers and plants sprung up. What can grow there? Especially with the shadow of our six-story building blocking most of the day's sun. The first step is to ask the experts. I have worked with Nancy Ooki of 4-H Youth Development Programs at UH Manoa Extension, Maui County so I inquired if an expert can come analyze the situation. I was pleasantly surprised that I was connected with Dr. Cynthia Nazario-Leary, PhD in Urban Horticulture. How lucky! She graciously agreed to come inspect our site and we came up with possibilities. We decided on a raised garden and came up a list of plants that might do well with the indirect and infrequent sunshine.
With approval from our new landlords, redwood, hardware, and soil were purchased and students were put in charge of building the 8'x8' planter. A few math lessons were thrown in. All the work was done by students, as was the planting. Dr. Cynthia continued her training and leading of our student gardeners to ensure success of the garden. She planned and delivered lessons on plant physiology and needs, soil science, and the scientific method. Students were soon charting their plants growth from germination to, hopefully, maturity! We'll see...
Jun Wu, HTA Maui Middle School Teacher
45 minutes. That’s how long it takes our class to walk to the library and back. And believe me, we hustle!
My sophomore English class had a problem that may sound familiar to you. Students wanted hot new books from diverse authors. And I, their teacher, wanted to spend more class time reading than walking. There was a clear solution. We needed to start a classroom library. But this was also a problem. Where would we get the funds for our project?
Funding: The White Whale.
Call me Captain Ahab. I’ve been hunting the white whale of “funding” year after year. If you’re a teacher, a student, or a parent you know that the projects we dream of for school can often seem out of reach. We need funds (something, anything!) to get big ideas off the ground. But grant proposals need skill to write, fundraisers need an invested audience to attend, and enthusiasm needs momentum to stay alive. And all of these approaches take TIME. That’s why, when someone finds a path to funding, we’re likely to holler about it from the mountain tops! Allow me to holler at your for a second.
DonorsChoose Really, Really Works. Really!
I first heard about DonorsChoose from a fellow teacher (who was hollering from the mountain tops). Her project required a class set of ipads… and it had just been funded. The project sounded amazing. The ipads were shiny and new. My colleague had captured the elusive rainbow unicorn of funding. She was a superstar! Of course my first thought was, there’s no way I could ever do that.
But when my students started suggesting books for our imaginary classroom library, I knew I had to try every path possible to make it happen. I’m telling you, DonorsChoose worked for my class. I posted our project on DonorsChoose.org and within a week, it was funded!
What Do You Need?
The steps were easy: Tell us about your students, tell us about your project, tell us what you need. I told the truth. My students are a pack of weirdos who believe in ancient unicorn fossils (archaeologists on the internet said it was true!) and they want fresh, diverse books to fuel their weirdness. The request was simple: We need books!
DonorsChoose gave me a link to share on Facebook. I kept my fingers crossed as I picked through the discard bin at the library over the weekend (hey, sometimes there’s a diamond in the rough!)
Four Days Later
Four days later our project was fully funded. I received an email of congratulations and high fives from my friends at school. It turns out a donor from California saw my project and wanted to help. Then, a foundation matched her donation. Before I could say “bookshelves” the books had been ordered. They’re set to arrive in a few short weeks. I posted a huge “THANK YOU!” from me and my class to our fabulous donors.
So If You Have a Big Idea...
Today, right now, this very minute, I urge you to make a post on DonorsChoose. And when your project is funded, give me a holler!
Chrissy Layton, High School English Teacher
Hawaii Technology Academy (HTA), the state’s largest public charter school, is partnering with the Hawaiian Humane Society to provide a better future for dogs in need of adoption. HTA Middle School students will be visiting the Hawaiian Humane Society to donate dog bandanas that they hand-sewed in math class. Jackie Vallejo-San Agustin, HTA Middle School Math teacher, incorporated this service learning trip into her math lesson on scaling figures.
HTA Middle School students looked at existing dog bandana sizes and found that most had a height-to-length ratio of 1:3. They also found out that dogs wearing bandanas were more likely to get adopted. Students then chose their own fabric and by using proportions, calculated how the dimensions of the bandana. They drew their bandanas to scale on paper, indicated the scale, and found the area to determine the minimum amount of fabric needed for their pattern. Lastly, they found out how much their final product deviated from their plan by calculating the percent change of the dimensions. After learning how to hand stitch, the students sewed some final touches on their dog bandanas, making them ready to be delivered to local animal shelters. What a way to review the concepts of proportions, scaling, percent of change, and area of figures!
“I believe in taking a hands-on approach to learning. The students really enjoyed this project because they were able to apply various different math concepts that they knew but also learn a new skill- sewing, “ says HTA teacher, Jackie Vallejo-San Agustin.
Through this project, HTA students are truly applying the school’s core values of collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and character. “Making concepts relevant to the real-world and allowing the students to display creativity in their work are effective teaching strategies,” says Leigh Fitzgerald, HTA’s Executive Director. Fitzgerald continues, “I am always proud to see young people making a positive impact on their community as well.
Hawaii Technology Academy is a tuition-free public charter school, with students in grades K-12 across the state. HTA’s blended learning model empowers students to succeed through face-to-face instruction, virtual instruction, and independent learning. To learn more about the future of learning, please visit myhta.org.