In 2004, when Molokai High School split from Molokai Middle School, the high school lost its science laboratories.
Since then, MHS students have been learning science by watching virtual lab experiments on computers, completing bookwork and listening to lectures. This type of passive learning method has been proven to be less effective than active, hands-on education.
To better balance the equation in favor of Molokai students, the Hawaii Department of Education has proposed construction of a new science building with two classroom labs. Each of the two new labs will be approximately 1,730 square feet in size, with desk seating and eight lab stations located around the periphery of the room.
Between the two classrooms, there will be a shared teacher prep room, restroom and storage spaces. Total building area is approximately 4,500 square feet.
The project site fronts Farrington Avenue, near the west entry to the high school. The rectangular-shaped building will displace an existing movable trailer, which houses student support offices. The trailer will be relocated nearby. About half of the new building will extend into an area that is currently overgrown and unused.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to the construction of two new science buildings here,” said MHS science teacher Lee DeRouin. “We have been working in A Wing classrooms for some time now. The new buildings will provide the science department with the space and opportunities to move our students forward in common core standards in science.”
Without labs, the school has been using two general purpose classrooms for all science instruction. These classrooms lack basic equipment such as individual lab tables, sinks, gas and water connections. As a result, many lab procedures cannot be conducted or are done at a single demonstration station.
“The rooms will all be fitted for science technologies to help our students to succeed in science,” said DeRouin.
The project now needs to jump the environmental hurdles necessary for a land use special permit and a conditional permit so that construction can begin toward the end of 2014 as planned. Construction is expected to be completed in 12 months.
As proposed, the project may also include a small wind turbine as an educational pilot project. The wind turbine will provide a renewable source of energy for the new classroom building. It will be mounted on a tower between 45 and 65 feet high and be located behind the building. In this area, the project will also provide an 8-by-8-foot rainwater harvest tank.
Both the wind turbine and the rainwater tank will support the school’s environmental science education and sustainability improvements. A catchment basin next to the building can also be used by students as a dry lo‘i garden.
The Hawaii Office of Environmental Quality Control issued a notice on Jan. 8 allowing the public 30 days to comment on this project. Any concerns about the potential impact of this project should be addressed to the Hawaii Department of Education, Office of School Facilities and Support Services, Facilities Development Branch, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 431, Honolulu, HI 96813. Comments are due by Feb. 7.
For more information, contact William George with the DOE at 808-586-0465. The consultant Kimura International, also will receive all public comments at 1600 Kapi‘olani Boulevard, Suite 1610 Honolulu, HI 96814; contact Leslie Kurisaki at 808-944-8848.