DoDEA Pacific students prepare for research, discovery and hands-on learning during STEM Awareness Week

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DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs

For Immediate Release — April 16, 2012 | Pacific
Charly Hoff: Public Affairs Officer | DSN: 644-5657 |  Cell: +81-(0)80-2703-0632

OKINAWA, JAPAN — April 16, 2012 — All 49 schools across Department of Defense Education Activity Pacific schools will challenge students to apply their science, technology, engineering, mathematics, communication and problem-solving skills during STEM Awareness Week April 23-27.

STEM Awareness Week is a DoDEA-wide initiative to facilitate a deeper dive into academic areas of national import, particularly in the areas of engineering and mathematics. A secondary goal is to boost awareness and enthusiasm for the STEM academic disciplines among traditionally underrepresented populations such as minority and female students. By exposing students at an early age to the exciting STEM career opportunities available to aspiring engineers, scientists, mathematicians, inventors, creative professionals, and researchers, events such as STEM Awareness Week will help address concerns among American business and government leaders about a shortage of students choosing to pursue STEM-oriented degrees and careers.

DoDEA districts around the globe are preparing activities and events for STEM Awareness Week to stimulate student interest and community engagement. DoDEA Pacific is using a holistic approach to include partnerships with military units and local community organizations, hands-on activities, project-based learning, an emphasis on collaborative problem-solving skills, and using technology in a substantive way to support learning and discovery.

While STEM Awareness Week will offer a special energy and focus to participating students, STEM goes far beyond a weeklong activity in DoDEA Pacific schools. The principles of mathematics, science and technology are embedded in everyday classroom instruction from the earliest grade levels. Each day, DoDEA Pacific students experience a range of learning activities related to STEM such as hands-on projects, self-paced and self-directed discovery challenges, group assignments, and traditional research methods widely used by universities and professional research facilities. Beyond the classroom, DoDEA Pacific also offers myriad extracurricular activities such as eCybermission, MATHCOUNTS, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), and various Far East high school activities including Mathematicafest, and the Science and Research Academy (SARA) now known as Interdisciplinary Basic and Applied Research (IBAARA).

As DoDEA has adopted new math and science standards in recent years, DoDEA Pacific schools have worked to embed science and math into other content areas through collaborative instructional planning. To align course offerings with emerging and future STEM fields, DoDEA Pacific also introduced pilot engineering courses in Biotechnology, Green Technology, Robotics and Gaming Technology in the fall of 2011. The classes have been well received by students and parents alike.

They offer the rigorous project-based learning and real-world problem solving that students need to prepare for the demands of advanced academic research and professional collaboration.

“We strive to provide our students every opportunity to succeed through well-balanced, standards-based curricula,” said DoDEA Pacific Deputy Director for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Dr. Joyce Lutrey, “and STEM Awareness Week is another great opportunity for our students to explore their interests and apply their many talents.”

To help facilitate student learning and engagement during STEM Awareness Week, STEM professionals were competitively selected and assigned by the Office of Personnel Management. The STEM professionals are partnering with DoDEA Pacific schools in each district to provide lesson-planning guidance, activity support and career advice to students.

“We’re proud to partner with distinguished professionals selected by the Office of Personnel Management to help our students build awareness of STEM careers and reinforce our day-to-day classroom instruction in the areas of math, science and technology” said DoDEA Pacific Acting Director Dr. Steven Bloom.

The following are select examples of what students will experience during DoDEA Pacific’s STEM Awareness Week:

DoDEA Guam District:

  • Guam High, Andersen Elementary/Middle and McCool Elementary/Middle Schools:
  • DoDEA STEM POC: Cheryl Sangueza, DSN: 315-344-9162
  • STEM Activities: Students will explore the complex principles around DNA fingerprinting by participating in a dye gel electrophoresis lab and associated activities. Students will also make field trips to local law enforcement and university labs.

The OPM STEM professional will be Project Manager and Molecular Biologist Linda Armstrong with the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Wright Patterson AFB, OH. Armstrong has extensive experience with post- secondary curriculum and instruction targeted at preparing students for careers in research.

DoDEA Japan District:

  • E.J. King Middle School:
    • DoDEA STEM POC: Gail Awakuni, DSN: 315-252-3059
    • STEM Activities: Paper-car engineering competition, catapult and tower-building challenge, problem-solving using computer-programming and LEGO NXT kits, rocket nozzle design and engineering, among others.
  • E.J. King High School:
    • DoDEA STEM POC: Gail Awakuni, DSN: 315-252-3059
      STEM Activities: Balloon catapult contest, dream home (earthbound or spacecraft) engineering and design contest, design challenge to create a robot capable of navigating a maze, a sunken submarine rescue challenge using remotely-operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) with articulating arms engineered and built by students, etc.

The OPM STEM professional will be LCDR Ryan Murphy, US Coast Guard, Honolulu, HI. Murphy is an active duty military officer and licensed Professional Civil Engineer. Murphy will also be working with information technology, robotics, and gaming technology teachers at Zama American and Kinnick High Schools.

DoDEA Okinawa District:

  • Amelia Earhart Intermediate School:
    • DoDEA STEM POC: Dr. Uvella Knight, DSN: 315-634-1329
    • STEM Activities: The school will be open to the public to view exemplary student work at special centers including: photo stories, rocket science, science fair, recycling, Mindstorm robotics, student-made musical instruments, Star Lab, engineering, and Max's Pod.
  • Kubasaki High School:
    • DoDEA STEM POC: Jon Walden, DSN: 315-645-6888
      STEM Activities: Students will engineer, build and conduct competitions related to bridge building, pop-rocket design, magnetic levitation trains, and hovercraft navigation.
  • Zukeran Elementary School:
    • DoDEA STEM POC: Diane Jackson, DSN: 315-645-2576
      STEM Activities: Students will explore the principles of physics and engineering by designing and building model airplanes. The planes will be tested for distance, speed and accuracy of movement using hula hoops. The students will also use conceptual math and non-traditional measurement tools throughout the week.

The OPM STEM professionals include Supervisory Environmental Engineer Jason Dalpias from Kadena AB; Chemist David Green from the Air Force Petroleum Agency, Kadena AB; Chief of Asset Management Flight Kelly Livingston, Kadena AB; and Base Traffic Engineer Brandon Toliver, with the Civil Engineering Squadron, Kadena AB.

DoDEA South Korea District:

  • Humphreys American Elementary School:
    • DoDEA STEM POC: Joyce Diggs, DSN: 315-753-8894
    • STEM Activities: Structure building contest using minimal materials, “Invent-a-Thing” brainstorming and design challenge, Tech Night showcase and student-led demonstrations, Eggs-Traordinary Day, STEM Fest classroom displays, etc.
  • Seoul American Elementary School:
    • DoDEA STEM POC: Samia Mounts, DSN: 315-736-5380
      STEM Activities: Bridge-building competition, robotics discussions and hands-on classroom projects, and an open-house style STEM rotation involving meteorology, electricity, music/sound and other topics. The culminating activity is a STEM Showcase Day where students will visit special stations set up throughout the school to highlight physics, math, engineering, aerodynamics, astronomy and geometry.

The OPM STEM professional for the DoDEA Korea District will be Registered Civilian Nurse Matthew Keith with the US Naval Hospital, Guam. Keith will be working with teachers at Seoul American HS to develop lessons and activities that support the school’s anatomy and physiology courses, and Health Science/Nurse Aide certification program.

In addition to directly supporting DoDEA Pacific teachers and students with various activities, all the OPM STEM professionals will lead both in-person and interactive tele-presence discussions about career preparation and federal employment opportunities throughout STEM Awareness Week according to the following schedule:


Mon, 4/23

Tues, 4/24

Wed, 4/25

Thurs, 4/26

Fri, 4/27






(South Korea)




(South Korea)



DoDEA Pacific Instructional Systems Specialist Krista Hurley, who is responsible for coordinating the overall planning for STEM Awareness Week throughout the Pacific, said the anticipation is high for the exciting activities to come, “Students will be so busy having fun that they won’t even notice how much math and science they are applying. Only then will they have that ‘aha’ moment when they realize that higher academics really are, and always were, within their reach.”

A dedicated web site is currently being developed to curate and showcase selected student work from across the Pacific during STEM Awareness Week:
Anyone interested in volunteering during STEM Awareness Week should contact their local DoDEA Pacific school directly. News media representatives interested in covering STEM Awareness Week events are requested to contact DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs at DSN: 315-644-5657, commercial at +81-80-2703-0632 or via email at

About DoDEA Pacific:
DoDEA Pacific provides a comprehensive preK-12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. The 49 schools in DoDEA Pacific are comprised of more than 24,000 students and 3,100 full-time professional educators and support staff. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.

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