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 for more fun!
Thank you,


posted Oct 9, 2015, 4:31 PM by Heather Calabro

In Humanities, the students are preparing for their Heroes Project exhibition coming up on October 22nd. The essays are getting their final touches before being sent to the printer with the photos the students took. The remainder of the week was filled with a lot of research. The students explored the history of agriculture and created an infographic with their findings. The students then went to the library for a lesson with the librarian on researching and citing. The relationship they have now formed with the librarian will help them throughout this year as they research a real problem plaguing the aquaponics industry and posing a solution for it (which they will present to parents, community members, and aquaponics experts at the end of the year). 
Two of our recent field trips were captured in 360 degree technology. Do you have the YouTube App on your phone or iPad? Open these two videos using the App, and you will be able to move your phone or iPad all around you (side to side, over head, straight down, etc) and see our field trip as if you were there! Enjoy:


posted Oct 2, 2015, 5:34 PM by Heather Calabro

In Humanities, the students got a lot closer to completing their Heroes Project, which focuses on writing skills and ties their nightly reading to their present life. They also enjoyed putting on Socratic Circle discussions on their assigned text. 
The highlight of this week was certainly the Humanities-Stem field trip to Mari's Gardens. Our partnership on the aquaponics farm is continuing to grow (pun intended), as the students are learning the workings of the facility and are beginning to do independent research that they will later present to agricultural leaders. While there are photos below to document our field trip today, please check out our Videos on Instagram

The field trip began with a lecture from Dr. Kai Fox, an aquaponics expert, on fish and fish breeding
Before beginning our day's work, we checked out our work from last week. The carrot bed already has sprouts and the cucumber auto-pots do, too!
The students worked to clear out another aquaponic grow bed for future planting, and then got to work on sexing the tilapia fish. They all got to work on netting the fish, handling the fish, and identifying the fish.
The students smeared iodine on the fish to help them identify their sex.
In the end, the students were able to have identified this many males! (The females were put into black tanks and therefore were too hard to photograph)


posted Sep 25, 2015, 5:36 PM by Heather Calabro

In Humanities this week, the students continued their reading of Vespasian and conducted really great Socratic Circles. The students really enjoy talking through the novel with one another and I was impressed at how they notice why and when the author goes into greater detail as well as the inclusion of actual historical events. The students also made good headway with their Heroes Project by conducting peer feedback on interview questions and contacting their hero for the interview/photoshoot. To end the week, the classes created skits with historically accurate information about ancient Roman figures. I can't wait to see the performances at the beginning of next week.

In the Humanities-Stem project work, the students conducted research on real-world, commercial-level aquaponics farming issues (from pest control to energy usage). At the end of the year, the students will present their research findings and propose solutions to the owner of Mari's Gardens. This is exciting but difficult work for 9th graders. The classes also enjoyed their 2nd (of many) field trips to Mari's Gardens, one of the world's largest aquaponics farms! The field trip began with a lecture and presentation on the history of carrots, the nutritional value of carrots, and the challenges of cultivating carrots. Then, a demonstration of different methods of controlling the water in an aquaponic bed. Lastly, the students prepared 2 large aquaponics beds (1st video below) and then planted carrot seeds in them (2nd video below). The students will tend to these 2 grow beds in the coming weeks and then enjoy the fruits, actually veggies, of their labor in 2 months. The students then worked in the greenhouse. And lastly, the students cleared an old aquaponic bed, before eating their lunch at the farm. The videos below are timelaspes (sped up).
Preparing the bed by tilling the perlite deep into the bed.
Planting the carrot seeds.


posted Sep 18, 2015, 11:15 AM by Heather Calabro

In Humanities, the students began to work on a new project, the Heroes Project. Students will link their nightly novel reading's theme of heroism to their lives today by identifying a hero and completing a character sketch over the next couple of weeks. 

In the Humanities-Stem project work, the teams all completed their warm-up design challenge, a stool, and reflected on the process through "vlogging" (video-blogging). One team's vlog can be viewed below, complete with a timelapse of their work. Please ask your child at home to see their team's vlog, many of them are quite the hoot.


posted Sep 11, 2015, 3:11 PM by Heather Calabro

We ended last week with our first field trip to Mari's Gardens. The students toured the entire farm and also learned about aquaponics from the owners of the farm. When we return to Mari's Gardens in a couple of weeks, the students will take part in constructing a new aquaponic system on the farm, which will grow carrots.
In Humanities, the students held their Athens-Melos Simulations. The students were divided into roles: Athenian General, Athenian Admiral, Ruler of Melos, or Melian General. They did a fantastic job preparing for their roles by writing opening statements, itemizing their demands, and working with their peers to try to avoid war between the two ancient city states. This student-centered activity helped the students to understand ancient politics, which dovetails nicely with our nightly novel reading of Vespasian. 
We took an extra field trip this week, by walking next door to the University of Hawai'i campus, to the lo'i. It was a great experience for the students to compare modern sustainable farming methods (what they see at Mari's Gardens) to ancient sustainable farming methods (what they saw at Kanewai lo'i). Despite the heat and humidity, the students really enjoyed working in the lo'i and understanding how the ancient Hawaiians were able to use natural resources to feed a population without harming the environment.


posted Sep 3, 2015, 6:05 PM by Heather Calabro

It has been a very busy week in Humanities and also with our Humanities-STEM joined class! At the end of last week we took a field trip to HPower, which is a waste to energy plant. The state of the art facility opened the students' eyes with why sustainability is so important. They were able to view the massive amount of trash entering the facility, see some of the process, visit the control room, and learn all about every piece of the process that results in a 90% reduction of trash and a 10% generation of our island's electricity. It was a great learning experience for the students, and photographed below.
The students began their Socratic Circles routine in Humanities to discuss the ancient Rome novel. The students freely discussed the chapters they read with each other while their peers used a website chatroom to agree and comment on their peers' opinions. It is a great interactive activity and I really enjoy seeing the students answer each other's questions and bring each other out of their shells and into discussion! Here are a couple of photos of our first Socratic Circle of the year.
In our joined Humanities-STEM time, the students braved the heat and got to work outside the classroom on their design challenge. Using their own designs, and their scaled drawings as architecture plans, the students learned how to use power tools and began to bring their designs to fruition! I am impressed at how well the teams are working together and how quickly the products are coming together. After this design challenge, the students will have the skills they need to design and construct hydroponic gardens for our year-long work in sustainability! In the photos below, you can see the progression as well as how the products look compared to the small white foamcore models.


posted Aug 27, 2015, 1:05 PM by Heather Calabro

In Humanities this week, the students began their Ancient Civilization Unit. In pairs, the students created short animated videos that taught their peers about one aspect of Ancient Roman Civilization. The students really enjoyed each other's videos, and admitted that learning an overview of history in such a format is much more interesting than reading from a textbook. One of the animated shorts can be viewed at:
The students later researched Vespasian and created an infographic of his biography, in order to prepare for our reading of our first novel, Vespasian Tribune of Rome. In joined Humanities-STEM class, the students researched, designed, drew to scale, and constructed models of a "stool" that they could use in our classroom. The purpose of the stool project is to get the students acquainted with design and construction before embarking on our involved/more complicated year-long hydroponic work. The photos below show some of the progress the student teams made.


posted Aug 21, 2015, 10:58 AM by Heather Calabro

The second week of school was a busy one. The students completed their Humanities project on their summer reading book. The project work required the students to brainstorm, research, write, revise, and be artistic. The result of their work is a beautiful gallery in the Atherton Building, with links to their writing component. Now that the students understand the basic components to project work and have assessed the summer reading, we can dive into our true curriculum beginning Monday. This week also served as further introduction to our Humanities-STEM theme of Food Security and Sustainability. The students examined and sorted trash from the school cafeteria and our homes. The students were surprised to see how many recyclable materials had been tossed carelessly into the trash. How much of the trash was actually compostable/reusable. And how much true-trash existed in the form of something that could be made differently to save on waste (styrofoam plates could be paper or washable dishware). The students then reflected on the experience in their blogs. This activity was a good way to get the students thinking about waste and conservation as we head to the waste-to-power plant next week on our first field trip.


posted Aug 13, 2015, 10:53 AM by Heather Calabro

This has been a great first week of school! The Mpx students are engaged and vibrant. I am enjoying getting to know each of them and have a great feeling about the accomplishments this group will experience this year. On Wednesday, we pulled the two classes of Mpx together to do a large group "Mpx orientation" activity. After brainstorming and agreeing on class norms, the students were put into teams and given a challenge: create the tallest structure using only the corks and toothpicks given to you. The competition was fierce! While the students all learned a little something about rapid prototyping, the real lesson was in collaboration. The students correctly identified what collaboration is and what collaboration looks like, and then they modeled it during the challenge. It was such a great way to kick off our Mpx school year! Below are some photos of the design challenge:

May 8, 2015

posted May 8, 2015, 11:56 AM by Heather Calabro

One week ago was the big MPIron Chef event, held at KCC. The student teams did such an excellent job! The entire year's work came together in one evening as the students cooked the produce that they grew in hydroponic gardens that they designed and built! 
Photos of the event can be found in the gallery link in this article: 
The recorded live stream from the kitchen that evening can be found at: 
This week, the students' WWII Project was finally exhibited. The students erected a 3D-printed timeline of 31 significant events from WWII. Each student designed an artifact that was 3D printed, wrote an essay about the event, and created a video about the event. The essay and the video are accessible through an iphone app called MPX9 WWII Stories that can be downloaded through the app store on your iphone or ipad. The students' exhibit is designed to teach others about WWII through a unique and engaging format. Please check out the exhibit in the Weinberg Tech Center on the landing in the stairwell between the first and second floor. Here are some photos of the exhibit:

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