With shifts in teaching and learning standards, growing environmental global threats, and youths' decreased connection between careers in Western science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) indigenous and ancestral ways of knowing, our society must change the way we treat our “place” and teach our children. This paper shares the design of a new construct called STEMS^2 (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Social Sciences and Sense of Place) and the structure of the master’s concentration (https://coe.hawaii.edu/academics/curriculum-studies/med-cs-stems2) grounded in the STEMS^2 construct.
The STEMS^2 construct exists in three parts: a) theory, b) pedagogy and c) teacher leadership movement. The theory is grounded in four bodies of literature: 1) STEM education (Flores et al. 2002; Gutstein 2003; Rogers & Portsmore 2004; Subotnik et al. 2010), 2) culture-based education (Ladson-Billings 1995; Gay 2010; Kana‘iaupuni et. al., 2010), 3) place-based education (Gruenewald 2003; Lim & Calabrese Barton 2010; Gruenewald & Smith, 2014) and 4) indigenous education (Kanahele, 1986; Barnhardt, 2005; Smith, 2001; Bang & Medina 2010). This literature is used in a dynamic nature to both build the STEMS^2 framework and continuously re-evaluate the framework as it becomes actualized in practice.
Two essential features of STEMS^2 pedagogy are experiential learning and service learning. Experiential learning existed for generations in Hawai‘i before Western contact and has since become a proven educational method across multiple cultures (Wurdinger & Carlson 2010). A fundamental learning strategy traditionally used by Native Hawaiians is ma ka hana ka `ike (“from the doing, comes the knowledge”). Similarly, a definition of experiential learning in modern education is “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb et al. 2002).
The STEMS^2 master’s concentration is an intensive 13 month master’s program that works with informal and formal educators across the PK-20 spectrum to meet three primary objectives: 1) build participants’ capacity to serve as educational leaders in their communities; 2) increase educators’ knowledge of and ability to design STEMS^2 units that incorporate Mathematics and Language Arts Common Core (CCSI) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies with indigenous knowledge, skills and practices, and 3) to support teachers’ implementation of their place and culture-based STEMS^2 units.
In order to meet these goals, the 13 month experience consists of two bookend three-week in person summer sessions with on-line class meetings in the fall and spring. Approximately 20 teachers per year start the first three-week summer experience building an understanding of the STEMS^2 construct and a sense of self in the STEMS^2 program by engaging in a series of experiential and service oriented learning experiences in Western, Indigenous and ancestral learning spaces. During the fall and spring on-line courses, student builds a sense of STEMS^2 theory and pedagogy via readings, discussions and in designing and implementing STEMS^2 pedagogy. In the final three-week in-person summer experience, participants’ develop their sense of self as teacher leaders.
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