During the week from June 13-17, assistant professor in physics, Philip von Doetinchem started the new “HIGGS - HIgh school students in proGramminG and Sciences” outreach program at Nanakuli High School in cooperation with the Office for Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity(SEED) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Doetinchem says: “The idea behind the program is that high school students are using smartphones as major resource for nearly all aspects of their lives. However, a deeper understanding of computers is shrinking while the usage of these devices is becoming easier. The program aims to increase the digital literacy level of high school students that resides in the interface of natural sciences and computer programming.”
During this first pilot run Doetinchem worked closely with the students on Nanakuli campus where they learned how to use highly versatile and affordable Raspberry Pi computers. Starting from the bare computer CPU board, students built up a system with multiple sensors and devices and wrote the corresponding computer code to control them. In an entirely hands-on approach they worked with cameras, read out temperature and humidity sensors, and measured natural radioactivity levels with Geiger counters controlled by the computer. On the last day, students received a tour with Institute for Astronomy (IfA) director Dr. Guenther Hasinger, of IfA, the Mānoa campus and a physics class.
The inaugural run of the program was a success. The students who completed this class during their summer break reported that they are really interested in technology and would like to understand science more. The program would have not been possible without the coordinators at SEED: Dr. Maile Goo, Nicholas Childs, Paul Richards, and Janis Dela Cruz and the support from Nanakuli High School’s assistant principal Corrina Luna.
The program is supported by the Office for Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Doetinchem’s National Science Foundation CAREER award.