Ma ka hana ka 'ike (in working, one learns)

This blog offers a glimpse into the journey of the MidPacific 
students in the MPX project-based learning program.
Please follow the class on twitter and instagram for more fun!
Thank you,


posted Feb 11, 2016, 1:35 PM by Heather Calabro

In the joined Humanities-Stem project this week, the students "moved in" to the Sustainability Station located behind the quad. Their student-designed and constructed hydroponic gardens have found their official home and are now awaiting crops (which are seedlings under the lights in the classroom, and will be ready to transfer into the gardens when they're a tad bit bigger)! If you are on campus, please stop by the Sustainability Station to see the teams' completed constructions!

The students are also learning what to do with their crops. What is the good of growing your own food if you don't know how to prepare it? Experts from KCC's Culinary school came to our classroom to give a lesson on preventing crop waste, aka preservation. The students made kimchee. 
In Humanities, the students are enjoying reading and discussing Animal Farm, which serves as the foundation for our unit on the Russian Revolution. They are wrapping up their plays, still (using the laser cutter proved to be a bit more time consuming/daunting that originally planned, but tis new technology! The students are better off having learned from it).


posted Feb 8, 2016, 9:36 AM by Heather Calabro

The students are truly juggling at the moment! This is the time of year where old things are progressing and new things are beginning! The year-long project continues with planting, water chemistry, and app development. In Humanities, we are closing one unit (Renaissance) and beginning another (Russian Revolution).  The students are handling the tasks very well!

In the year-long project, the students are enjoying some mini-culinary lessons from the staff from KCC's esteemed culinary program. The students are using their hydroponic gardens to grow food, it is important that they know what to do with their bounty and also how to prevent wasting any of it (hence our lessons in pickling/preservation). This week, the students will have another culinary lesson. Here is a photo of their first lesson a couple of weeks ago:

In Humanities, the students are using the laser cutter to create balsa wood "puppets" for their revenge-themed plays. The plays the students create will be uploaded to our class YouTube channel and will be viewed by many, including you parents! The end goal is to get viewers, feedback, and to explain a lesson. Using the laser cutter:
Completed cuts:
Rehearsing their lines:


posted Jan 15, 2016, 5:00 PM by Heather Calabro

In Humanities this week, the students worked to finish writing their plays. Like, The Spanish Tragedy (which they are wrapping up reading and annotating this weekend), the plays will have the theme of revenge. The groups are having a good time, so far, writing together. Next week, they will peer edit each other's scripts, and work on creating their characters. The school recently acquired a laser cutter. I feel that the more cutting edge technology our Mpx students are exposed to, the better, as their future careers may involve such or something similar. The students will use the laser cutter to create "puppet" characters for their revenge plays.
In our Humanities-Stem venture, the students made excellent headway with their student-designed hydroponic systems. We are nearing construction completion! The students will begin to plant seedlings soon, create appropriate water chemistry in their grow beds, and then transfer the plants into their systems! Sustainable urban farming is happening soon!
To wrap up the week, the students interned at Mari's Gardens again. They worked to harvest butter lettuce and carrots, for part of the morning. The rest of the morning, the students re-toured the farm to collect information for an Apple Store app they will be creating this semester. The students have been working to understand all aspects of modern day farming, from crop choice to seeding to consumption and everything in between. It is only fitting for the students to take what they have learned and apply it to a real life product: a walking tour app for Mari's Gardens visitors, that will be the class' legacy as it will live on long past their Mpx days. 
Students transporting their finished hydroponic frames to our Sustainability Station behind the quad
Students gathering information on aquaponic tilapia and catfish for the app they will create
Students gathering information on a hydroponic greenhouse for the app they will create


posted Jan 10, 2016, 7:31 PM by Heather Calabro

It was a lovely first week back from winter break. The students were introduced to their next challenge, become a playwright! They ended last semester heavy on the history of the Renaissance through History Day documentaries, in conjunction with their reading of The Spanish Tragedy. Now, the students will begin the semester heavy on the language arts through revenge plays, continuing with their reading of The Spanish Tragedy. The students will be airing their plays to an authentic audience, however they will be deciding in the coming week how to best purpose their video, through a moral message. The end of the week was not spent on a field trip or build day this week. Instead, the Sierra Club of Hawaii partnered with Mpx (both 9th and 10th grade) to bring a private screening of This Changes Everything, a documentary about climate change from the point of view most effected. As an educator, the most meaningful part of the movie screening was the question and answer portion of the event. The Sierra Club of Hawaii representative was bombarded with EXCELLENT questions from the Mpx 9 and 10 brigade. He told me, afterwards, that he has shown the film to both high schoolers and college students and "by far the Mid-Pacific students' Q&A was the best [he] has ever had". 


posted Dec 11, 2015, 5:12 PM by Heather Calabro   [ updated Dec 11, 2015, 5:14 PM ]

That is a wrap! First semester has come and is now gone. I am very proud of the students' work and look forward to seeing more from them in 2016. Thank you for all of the parental support you provided not only to your child this semester but to us teachers. Mpx requires a lot of action on the students' part but also from you all! 
This week the students delivered their semester Presentations of Learning. All of the PoLs were video tapped so the students may watch themselves and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, for growth. The playlist containing the videos is embedded below if you'd like to view your child's. Happy Holidays!


posted Dec 4, 2015, 4:37 PM by Heather Calabro

The semester is wrapping up nicely! The students have completed their Renaissance-themed History Day documentary films, which we will air during class next week to provide feedback and also vote on which ones will compete in the school-wide contest. The students are finishing up creating their Presentations of Learning, which they will present next week during class as a "semester final" for the course. Their presentations will show their teachers and peers exactly what they personally learned this semester in Mpx, whether it be content information or 21st century skills. The students have been asked to use a storyline in their presentation, so we look forward to their personalities shining through! 
The students took their final field trip, for the semester, to Mari's Gardens today. They did such a great job with the tasks assigned to them. The students are understanding, more and more, how a modern farm requires so many irons in the fire in order to succeed. Their research work for the farm is coming along nicely, although 2nd semester will really see it come together. Today, the students examined the lettuce they planted on the last field trip. It is coming in nicely! Then, they examined carrots they planted in aquaponic beds during one of our first field trips. The carrots were supposed to be harvested and taken home by the students by now. But, they aren't ready. The students planted too many carrots in too close quarters, so they are not growing properly. Today, the students spent time thinning the carrots, leaving some behind to hopefully grow to maturity. The students didn't waste the carrots that they thinned. They either bagged them up to take home and eat as baby carrots, or they fed them to the farm's goats. Nothing goes to waste! The students also tended to the cucumbers that they had set up on a previous field trip. They emptied the aquaponic auto-pots of cucumbers that had already been harvested, so that the soil could be composted using worms and later re-used. They also planted cucumber seedlings. Lastly, the students checked out the "veggie lab" container that they had set up for microgreens and lettuce to grow on a previous field trip and admired how well they were growing!


posted Nov 16, 2015, 10:09 AM by Heather Calabro

Last week the students conducted great socratic circle discussions on their latest reading of The Spanish Tragedy. The students are challenged by the play and are increasingly comprehending. The beauty of the socratic circle discussions, is that the students can help each other through the tough spots, as well as freely share their opinions (like "OMG I can't believe that he did that!", haha). Some of our more reserved students are starting to come out of their shells during the socratic circle discussions and for that, I am most thankful and proud! 
In Humanities, the students continued to make progress with their Renaissance historical work: History Day documentaries that will be entered into the school's contest. 
In the Humanties-STEM joint venture, the teams are making great strides bringing their hydroponic designs to life. Also, the classes took another field trip to Mari's Gardens to continue to learn all the ins and outs of modern farming BY DOING. Each team has a specific topic that they are investigating while at the farm as well as through database research. The students really enjoyed transplanting Manoa Lettuce seedlings into hydroponic channels inside the greenhouse this time around.


posted Nov 6, 2015, 5:35 PM by Heather Calabro

It was a bit of a short week here at Mid-Pacific with the Schools of the Future Conference occurring on both Tuesday and Wednesday, where the Mpx teachers present each year. In Humanities, the students worked on their History Day documentary projects. This assignment requires research and analysis of historical information. The students have chosen topics from the Renaissance era that particularly interest them. Their final products will be entered into the school History Day contest. They also began reading and discussing The Spanish Tragedy, to dovetail with their History Day work.
In the Humanities-Stem realm, the students took another field trip to Mari's Gardens. They had an action-packed day there, and utilized the experts to gain information and insight on their year-long research projects. Please check out the photos and captions below to get a feel for the students' time on the farm.

The students checked on the fish that they caught, sorted, and moved a couple of weeks ago. They got to see that the sorting and new tanks are providing the fish better growth, with less feed, which effects both efficiency and marketing.
The students checked on the carrots that they planted during the first field trip on the farm. Being beginners at cultivation, they didn't evenly space the seeds, resulting in uneven growth.
Expert Mr. Lau showed the students how small the carrots are because they are fighting for space because of the uneven spacing. The students were able to learn from their mistake. The students are still going to get to eat these carrots, but Mr. Lau explained that they won't get them in December, as planned, but instead likely February because of the mistake.
The students worked inside one of the greenhouses to harvest cucumbers. The students learned a lot of information about what greenhouses do for certain plants, the role they play in pest control, and the role they play in environmental control.
The students harvested cucumbers and learned all about marketing. Cucumbers are graded before they are sold to grocery stores. It is very important to harvest cucumbers that are straight, a certain size, and to handle them very carefully. Also, every hour that the cucumbers are not refrigerated cuts one day of their shelf life. 
The students planted avocado trees in an area on the farm that was previously dead space, but now home to drainage trenches for the new tanks for the fish they sorted and moved a couple of weeks ago. 
The new tanks are draining surplus wasterwater into trenches. The avocado trees will take the nutrients from the surplus wastewater and grow! This is efficiency! This is sustainability.
The students prepared beds of coconut husk that will grow microgreens. These microgreens will be grown indoors under high tech LED lights in stacked aquaponic systems. This facility is going to be inspected next week and certified organic!
Expert Mr. Lau teaches the students about the height of the LED lighting and the coconut husk beds the students prepared and installed. The distance from the light decreases exponentially, which really effects the type of plants that can be grown in the stacks.


posted Oct 31, 2015, 12:40 PM by Heather Calabro

In Humanities, the students began a new unit. The Renaissance Unit. The students used class time this week to explore videos, conduct research "scavenger hunts", and songs about the different aspects, to give them an introduction to the period. They will be creating documentaries to submit to the History Day Contest as part of this unit, but the real fun will be reading The Spanish Tragedy, and writing and performing a revenge play of their own, which will culminate in an exhibition of course.
In the Humanities-Stem venture, the students made great strides beginning their hydroponic gardens. Models and scale drawings (blue prints) have been approved and the groups got to work bringing their design ideas to fruition. The students also use the "work time" to conduct original research for their Mari's Gardens Project. Work should be challenging but also fun! I have included snapshot of one group's process from research to construction-prep below, in addition to some work photos.


posted Oct 25, 2015, 5:45 PM by Heather Calabro

The students did an absolutely wonderful job at their first Humanities exhibition of the year. The students hosted nearly 100 parents, faculty, administrators, and friends to view their "art gallery" of Heroes Project work. While it was special for the students to display their essays and photographs, it was more important for the students to stand and deliver to a variety of people. It was the perfect opportunity for all of the students, who are all across the spectrum when it comes to extroversion, to gain experience public speaking in a comfortable one on one format. I was proud of the individual progress each student made on this interdisciplinary assignment.

In the Humanities-Stem realm, the students are dangerously close to constructing their hydroponic garden systems. Most teams have gotten final approval on their designs, foamcore models, and are finishing their scale drawings (aka "building blueprints"). They've only really had 1 session per week to work on this endeavor, in addition to researching their industry problem and solution project, so I am proud of their progress, and excitement. 
The students finished out the week with another internship field trip to Mari's Gardens. The aquaponic farm and their experts are helping the students to understand every working of the farm from design to seed to harvest to aquaculture to marketing. This week the students culled catfish, learned about why the catfish needed to be culled and transferred, and also split plants and repotted them for sale, learning about the economics of it all. 

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