Energy curriculum underway in Oahu classrooms

Hawaii Independent Staff

HONOLULU—Middle school science teachers at six Oahu public schools are set to bring lessons on sustainable energy into their 6th and 8th grade classrooms this fall.

To get ready for the curriculum, teachers attended the Sustainable Schools: Educators’ Energy Exchange workshop in July to learn innovative teaching practices and gain tools to facilitate the study of renewable energy with Hawaii students. The workshop was the culmination of a partnership between the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE), Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Women in Technology, and Punahou School.

“Science and the related fields of technology, engineering, and math are pathways to solving many energy issues that challenge Hawaii,” said Kathryn Matayoshi, DOE Superintendent. “Through the workshop, science educators will broaden their understanding of renewable energy and bring a fresh approach to teaching energy-related studies in the classroom.”

Nine teachers from Ewa Makai Middle School, Jarrett Middle School, Lunalilo Elementary, Nanakuli High and Intermediate, Palolo Elementary, and Washington Middle School took part in the inaugural workshop held at Punahou School’s Omidyar K-1 Neighborhood. Each teacher received the Island Energy Inquiry (IEI) curriculum, based on lesson plans and alternative energy resources developed by the MEDB’s Women in Technology Project, and a supply kit containing materials to create and build wind turbines in class and a 5-volt solar panel for small solar experiments.

“Inquiry-based learning leads to a deeper understanding of the content, said Gentry Hirohata, a 7th grade science teacher at Punahou School and IEI co-instructor with Pam Kohara, Resource Teacher for Kaimuki, McKinley, and Roosevelt schools complex. “To show the students that science goes beyond the classroom, the lesson starts with asking the essential question on how this study impacts a real energy issue, for example, how does wind energy impact energy sustainability in Hawaii?”

In November, the teachers will reconvene to share their resources and lessons learned during the semester to improve future workshops.

For more information on the IEI curriculum, visit