Encouraging Hawaii keiki to pursue science and mathematics as a college and career path is the goal of “I Am A Scientist,” a Chaminade University mobile outreach program. Now in its eighth year, the program recently achieved a notable milestone.
“This represents a lot of effort and devotion by a lot of people who have given so much of themselves to make this program successful,” says Lori Shimoda, a research associate with the university’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) division. “Chaminade scientists care not only for the students on our campus, but also those who have yet to even think about college.”
Founded by Shimoda in 2009, “I Am A Scientist” is funded through NSM using grants from Air Force Research Laboratories and the G.N. Wilcox Foundation. Chaminade faculty, researchers, staff and students volunteer their time to visit schools across Oahu.
Presentations involve hypothesis-driven experiments that employ biotechnology techniques and modern laboratory equipment transported from Chaminade, such as microscopes, lab coats and petri dishes. The curriculum is aligned with the Hawaii Department of Education standards, thus making it relevant for teachers and students.
One of the popular presentations is “Germs on Me,” an experiment that shows how an infection – like a cold or the flu – can spread rapidly through a classroom. Students are given tubes filled with a clear liquid and asked to share it among their classmates. Then one student is given a tube containing a non-toxic base component. After the sharing is complete, the “infected” tubes turn pink.
Another presentation is “Gene Genius,” which involves collection of the students’ own DNA. From this activity, students learn about the genetic code and the future of genomics in medicine and forensic science.
“I’m thankful for the support and encouragement of Dr. Helen Turner – our Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics – and to our faculty and staff who juggle their daily responsibilities to help at our events,” Shimoda says. “And a special thanks to our Chaminade students who take time out of their day to attend our teaching events.”
See the “I Am A Scientist” segment on Living808
“I Am A Scientist” is a funded mobile outreach program under Chaminade’s Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. In collaboration with university faculty, staff and students, this initiative supports science awareness and education in Hawaii public schools.