Q&A with PAEMST Awardee Arthur Kimura

Arthur Kimura
 is a 1983 PAEMST awardee from the state of Hawaii.
Tagged: Alumni Article

1. What is the greatest challenge you’ve overcome as a teacher and how did you overcome it?

An early recognition that the textbook teaching did not address the needed life skills in teamwork, problem solving, and communication, and deeper teaching and learning which were critical, led to designing and establishing an off campus 2 credit science course in which students reported to field stations at the zoo, the aquarium, the humane society and a hospital during which they were mentored by working professionals. Building trusting relationships among the community agencies, and with the support of the department and the administration, the program was established and sustained.

2. What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Teaching has allowed me the freedom to be creative and innovative in delivering the subject matter. Teaching touches lives: we may never know the full impact we have had on students - which experience or conversation mattered most to their pursuit of their dreams - but we all meet a few samples of these outcomes years later. NASA Teacher in Space, Christa McAuliffe said, it best, “I touch the future, I teach.”

3. What resources do you use to improve your own teaching?

Consistently, I seek opportunities offered by the community, whether it was being the first class to sail on an oceanographic research vessel, serving on the zoo’s education board, camping and touring at night in the zoo, planting 500 endemic trees that are relied upon by an endangered native bird for food, taking students on overnight camps and on weeklong field trips, organizing trips to the science centers, a chance meeting with teachers in Japan led to a 20 year relationship in which students and teachers attend annually a week long sponsored symposium in Japan, a chance meeting with a NASA engineer led to initiating scholastic robotics in Hawaii, and planning for space conferences and our own planetary themed summer camps with a staff of 30 teachers allowed experimentation in field and lab activities. NASA resources have been a vital part of opening new opportunities for establishing various context and project-based learning programs.

4. What tactics do you use to engage students?

Engaging students includes the use of discrepant demonstrations, hands on inquiry-based laboratory activities, project-based learning using a real-world context with a culminating demonstration or challenge, and use of community resources and experiences including global connections and collaboration.

5. What would be your best advice for a PAEMST applicant?

Frequently teachers who are nominated are reluctant to apply, humbly feeling they may not be deserving of such a distinctive honor. I remind the teacher that the nomination is the highest honor as it was made by someone who personally knew of the teacher and it is an award not just for the individual but honors everyone that supported the teacher, including family, administration, teacher colleagues, community resources and the students. The application process also provides an opportunity for reflection of one’s teaching and beliefs, and all those who have supported the journey.

6. What advice do you have for new teachers?

In our workshops for teacher candidates, we list the following: build a treasure chest of discrepant demonstrations and activities (spark the interest and curiosity of students), practice effective classroom management (so you can spend your time teaching), take the road less traveled sometimes (which could lead to opportunities that you did not imagine), submit grant proposals (if one grant is approved, it could provide resources that are on your bucket list), volunteer and participate in local professional organization and other programs (networking, be the change), use a context to connect your lessons (inter disciplinary, project based learning), and dream big.