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Teachers ‘Gain STEAM’ at Summer Institute for Educators

Maui teachers expand knowledge and skills at MACC workshop.

June 30, 2014
Photos: Bob Bangerter , Maui Weekly

Every year, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (The MACC) offers professional development sessions for Maui County teachers. This "Summer Institute for Educators" is a win-win situation for teachers and their students. Maui teachers can gain valuable continuing education credits, which affects their ability to rise in position and pay scale, and Maui County students gain teachers with expanded knowledge and skills and a renewed zest for teaching.

This year, the "Summer Institute for Educators" was comprised of two courses held the week of June 17-20. Both courses, under the theme of "Exploring Science Through the Visual Arts," centered around the central concept of STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. National education philosophy has focused on the need for American students to increase their STEM skills, and arts education professionals make the case for the inclusion of an "A" for the arts in that formula.

"The arts can no longer be treated as a frill," said Arne Duncan, U.S Department of Education secretary. "Arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical for young Americans competing in a global economy."

Article Photos

Upper-level teachers (grades three through seven) (from bottom left, clockwise) Chris Coffeen of Kalama Intermediate, Gretchen Benson of Kamali‘i Elementary, Joanne Barrett of Waihe‘e Elementary, Jennifer Saito of Wailuku Elementary and Athena Anderson of Wailuku Elementary School create fly pods at this year’s “Summer Institute for Educators.”

The two courses taught for this institute were "Picturing Science," taught by Dr. Lori Phillips of Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL), and "Builders and Dreamers," taught by Neida Bangerter, gallery director at The MACC. Teachers were assigned to grade-specific groups and attended both courses.

In "Picturing Science," which integrates science, visual arts and writing, teachers chose a grade-appropriate science topic dealing with the environment. Dr. Phillips taught the teachers drawing techniques, which they first used to sketch objects in their personal "Artist Journal," then transformed an image chosen from a print source into their own creation. The final step was adding science writing about their pieces, which included meta-phors.

Teachers responded with glowing comments about the process.

Fact Box

"In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future. Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with science, technology, engineering and math--the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century, just as science and technology did in the last century. We need to add Art + Design to the equation--to transform STEM into STEAM." Rhode Island School of Design

"The most meaningful thing I learned is to not be afraid to try," a teacher said. "I don't have to be an 'artist' to participate and teach my students as well. I reconnected with my creativity."

"The presenters were extremely encouraging, giving tips as we went along," another teacher commented. "They showed us how to teach it and helped us think about how to change for our needs. I really enjoyed meeting and collaborating with other teachers!"

The upper-elementary teachers participating in "Builders and Dreamers" were given scenarios that required them to work in teams on a project to design architectural models. The process required skills in problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration (mirroring the real world of scientific discovery), while integrating drawing and painting with the geometry topics of shape, scale and mathematical equations. Both groups participated in a full day of integrating art with math.

In addition to the summer institute week, The MACC arts education department sponsored an all-day Friday workshop, "Introduction to Design Thinking," for 30 intermediate and high school educators. This workshop was in direct response to Maui teachers' requests for more creative ways to solve problems. The challenge question of the day was, "How might we activate creative confidence in our schools?"

Supported by the County of Maui and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, workshops taught throughout the year and the annual "Summer Institute for Educators" offer ongoing professional development for teachers in Maui County schools. The arts education professional development program is a partnership between The MACC and the Department of Education-Maui District as part of the Partners in Education Program sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

For more information on The MACC's arts education programs, contact Susana Browne at



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