Category Archives: I Am a Scientist STEM

Inspiring the next generation of scientists.

Kahala Elementary School 22 January 2018

On Monday, January 22, 2018, 4th graders from Kahala Elementary School were transformed into Food Chemists. They used chemistry to determine the make up of various 21st Century food items.

4th graders at Kahala Elementary School, ready for science

These young Scientists took a sample of food and made a prediction as to the amount of sugar, starch, protein and fat contained in their sample.

Samples of food, ready for the mortar and pestle!

They placed a small sample of food into their mortar, then added water using a transfer pipet and ground the food into a liquid slurry using a pestle. Using a transfer pipet, they transferred 1 milliliter of liquified food into 4 test tubes. Each tube was labeled and tested for the presence of sugar, starch, protein and fat.

Using a colorimetric assay that changes the color of the sample, the young Scientists could determine if the compound was present simply by looking at the color. They could also compare the amount of compound by comparing the intensity of the color change.

Some food items were really “gross” and “yucky” to process, while others were really “pretty”. The scientists were able to “see” the amount of fat contained in a lot of their food samples. They were able to “see” what food items contained sugar and what did not. They observed how artificial food colors affected their results. They also collaborated with classmates to compare multiple samples.

While they can not perform this test at home, this experiment encourages them to critically think about the nutritional content of the foods they eat.

Let’s think about how our modern 21st century diet compares to a traditional Hawaiian diet.

Click here to visit 4th graders from Kahala Elementary Photo Gallery

Boy Scout’s Food Chemistry, 19 January 2018

Honpa Hongwaji’s Boy Scout Troop 49 gathering goggle and lab coats, ready for a lab on food chemistry

On Friday, January 19, 2018. Boy Scouts from Honpa Hongwaji’s Troop 49 from wore lab coats, gloves and eye protection to perform a food chemistry experiment using potatoes. They examined the fat content from various forms of potatoes: plain baked, baked with butter, French fries, or chips.

Using a top loading balance Scouts weighed out 1 gram of a potato food item. The food sample was placed in a mortar. 3 milliliters of water was added to the food using a micro pipette and pipet tips. Scouts mashed the food into a liquid slurry using the mortar and pestle. The liquified sample was transferred into a test tube and a chemical indicator was added. The samples were mixed thoroughly using a vortex mixer. All samples were collected and sorted from least red to most red. The red color indicates the presence of fat, so the Scouts were able to rank the food items containing the least amount of fat to the most.

They determined French fries and chips contain a lot of fat.

Click here to go to Troop 49’s Photo Gallery

Christmas gifts came early…

On Friday, Dec 15th, Bonny Amemiya, Erin Shon, and Trevor Benn from The GIFT Foundation of Hawaii awarded I Am a Scientist with a $55,000.00 grant in support of our STEM outreach program.

Left to right: Lynn Haff, Lori Shimoda, Bonny Amemiya (GIFT Foundation), Erin Shon (GIFT Foundation), Dean Helen Turner, and Trevor Benn (GIFT Foundation). Photo credit: The GIFT Foundation of Hawaii.

We are very grateful to all the donors who supported us through the GIFT Foundation’s fundraising event. This grant will be used to expand our program so we can serve more students and schools. We will also work to extend our reach to the neighbor island schools. A long term goal is to use this funding to position our program to secure Federal funding and develop a self-sustainable funding model.

Link to the MidWeek article featuring the GIFT foundation beneficiaries:

Link to The GIFT Foundation of Hawaii:


Ahuimanu Elementary School 5 December 2017

On the 5th day of Christmas, my tutu gave to me, 5 scientists, 4 pounds of sugar, 3 lab stations, 2 second grade classes, and 1 school on the windward side…

On this sunny December 5th day, Chaminade Scientists and science undergraduate students took equipment and lab coats to Ahuimanu Elem.

IAS and the 2nd graders at Ahuimanu Elementary School

The “How Sweet It Is” lab allows students to experience science by weighing sugar, measuring dissolved sugar and making a super saturated solution of sugar. Using lab equipment and techniques that real scientists use on a daily basis made the students feel like real scientists. The goal of this lesson is to make students aware of how much sugar they unknowingly consume. By reading the nutrition facts label and being more aware of what is in their drink and food will allow them make healthy choices. Drink water!!

At the end of our visit we got hugs from the students, some asked if we could come back tomorrow, and a some said “This is the best day of my entire life!”

The new scientists of Ahuimanu Elementary School with the IAS team

Please click here to visit the Ahuimanu Elem Photo Gallery

Myron B Thompson Academy 1 December 2017

On Dec 1st, 6th graders from Myron B Thompson Academy discovered that learning is fun and exciting when you do it in a newly renovated laboratory, using amazing equipment, and when your instructors are super cool Chaminade University science students.

IAS with the 6th grade scientists of Myron B. Thompson Academy

During their “Gene Genius” module, students used colored beads to help them understand how DNA codes instructions for the diversity of life. They also extracted their own DNA, and were able to keep a sample of it in a small glass vial.

Their visit was capped off with a campus tour to see other classroom settings, the library and student center. While touring our research facility they were very excited and proud when they noticed that researchers used the same type of equipment they used in their lab activity.

Chaminade science undergraduates and Ho’oulu scholar recipients served as instructors and role models for their younger peers, demonstrating service and a path toward higher education.

Please click here to visit the Myron B Academy Photo Gallery

IAS at Ali`iolani Elementary School 28 & 30 November 2017

On Nov 28 and 30, Scientist and students from Chaminade University visited 2nd graders at Aliiolani Elem.

Our “Germs On Me” module turned ordinary kids into “Germ Hunters”.

IAS with the 2nd graders at Ali`iolani Elementary School

Students and teachers participated in a fun activity to see how quickly a “germ” could spread from one person to the rest of the class in just a few minutes. In their experiment, a lot of kids got “infected” by the pretend germ. They discussed what to do when you get sick, and ways to prevent the spread of germs to friends and family.

Students also performed a hand washing experiment to see the effect of washing on the amount of bacteria on a their teacher’s hand. In their experiment, hand washing removed almost all the bacteria that was originally there.

The “Germ Hunters” explored their classroom to discover the living microscopic world they live in by taking samples from their environment, culturing (growing) it on an agar dish, then observing and describing what grew. They were introduced to microbiology and had a great time using microscopes.

Please click here to visit Ali`iolani Photo gallery

IAS at Lunalilo Elementary 14 November

On Nov 14, the Lunalilo Elem school library was transformed into a sugar laboratory.

I Am a Scientist at Lunalilo Elementary school

Dressed in crisp white lab coats, 2nd graders participated in a sugar-science event with their parents.

  • They weighed, measured, mixed, and poured sugar.  They used top loading balances, vortex mixers, test tubes, graduated cylinders, and hydrometers to understand properties of solutions and to see just how much sugar they consume in their favorite drink.
  • They discovered a bottle of apple juice contains more sugar than a can of cola.
  • Read the nutrition facts label and make wise & healthy choices.
I Am a Scientist at Lunalilo

Please click here to visit the Lunalilo photo gallery

I Am a Scientist at Lunalilo

Stevenson Middle School 8th graders

On November 17, 8th graders from Stevenson Middle School visited our campus.  They took a campus tour to see what Chaminade University has to offer an undergraduate student.

8th graders of Stevenson Middle School visit the Chaminade University campus

They also experienced what its like to do science in our teaching laboratories in Henry Hall.

Stevenson Middle School 8th graders and IAS

Chaminade’s Ho’oulu Scholars instructed the 8th graders in a Molecular Biology lab activity.   The students used colored beads to better understand the DNA code, and extracted their own DNA.

Click here to visit the Stevenson Middle School IAS photo gallery

Girl Scout STEM Fest at the Pacific Aviation Museum

I am a scientist with the Girl Scouts of Hawaii hosted their annual Girl Scout STEM Fest at the Pacific Aviation Museum

Girl Scouts of Hawaii hosted their annual Girl Scout STEM Fest at the Pacific Aviation Museum.  STEM Fest offers a diverse opportunity for Scouts to experience scientific exploration and meet female professionals in the STEM field.

Chaminade University’s IAS program brought real scientists, Dr. Katelynn Perrault, Assistant Professor of Forensic Science, a Medicolegal Death Investigator with the Hawaii Medical Examiner’s office, and a research scientist at Chaminade University, along with their equipment, to let Scouts experience how much fun it is to learn and work in a research lab.  The equipment we use everyday help us do our job, but it’s also super cool and amazing, and we wanted the Scouts to experience that.

Scouts learnt about chemistry, density, solubility, physics, and math all while having fun.  They used top loading balances, graduated cylinders, pipettors & serological pipets, micro-pipettors & pipet tips, centrifuge tubes, vortex mixers and a centrifuge.  To experience the wonders of science using real scientific equipment with real scientists was fun and enlightening for the Scouts.

Click here to visit the Girl Scout STEM Fest gallery