Yesterday, our Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education Program hosted their First Annual STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Fair at the Ke‘ehi Lagoon Memorial Park John A. Burns Hall. Children and their caregivers from the program, which serves homeless and at-risk families on the Leeward Coast of O‘ahu, spent the day exploring nearly 20 activity stations created by our Ka Pa‘alana teaching staff, with additional participation from community organizations, including Mālama ʻĀina Foundation, UH School of Marine Sciences, Public Health Nurses and Kamehameha Schools.
“Unlike other STEM curricular approaches, Ka Pa‘alana has tried, as much as possible, to incorporate multi-disciplinary and multi-layered approaches when teaching STEAM concepts,” said Danny Goya, Ka Pa‘alana Program Director. “STEAM incorporates the arts by making culture, music, etc. a vital element.”
A clear example of the STEAM concept in practice was the Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf station that focused on integrating reading and engineering. Parents and caregivers read with their children “The Three Little Pigs” before using materials (straws, popsicle sticks, legos, clay and scotch tape) to construct a house that could withstand Mr. Wolf (blow dryer). Other stations included hands-on marine animals, vermicomposting (using worms to break down organic waste), ‘ohe kāpala (bamboo stamping), first-aid/CPR and more.
“Our work, which is all research-based, is to push the STEAM concept at any early age because it’s important to expose children to not only literacy, but math and science as well,” Goya said. “Ka Pa‘alana engages the entire family so that we can equip caregivers with the skill-set to teach and learn with their keiki.”
Through collaborative partnerships with Leeward Coast outreach agencies, we’re assisting families by providing basic needs items as well as educational programs (Family-Child Interaction Preschool, Parent Education, Adult Education, Home Visiting). Our goal is to equip families for greater self-sufficiency and prepare children for school success.
We developed a STEAM-based curriculum for our preschools by partnering with the Children’s Center at the California Institute of Technology. Our STEAM Fair represents one of the fundamental steps in implementing the new curriculum at all of our program sites!