Dr Kayano Takahiro came to Owatonna Middle School this month to work with our teachers and students as they negotiated his iPad software HLW. The lessons focus on teaching students about radioactive nuclear waste and how to formulate plans on its disposal. Students are assigned a city on a fictitious island in the pacific and then work in teams to determine where and how the radioactive waste should be disposed. The students read through data, watched instructional videos and then debated where would be the best places for the nuclear waste fuel.
The lessons were really challenging and the students worked hard to figure out where they believed would be the best location for HLW disposal. The class we worked with was an 8th grade environmental studies course called "Living Green" and taught by Don Hettinga at OMS. Don is a veteran teach and committed to having students explore environmental issues from all angles and helping them learn how to make important and informed decisions to help protect our earth and its environments.
We were very fortunate to find a local resident, Saori Brown to interpret our conversations between Dr. Kayano and the students. Saori was born in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan and her husband and in laws are from Owatonna. This was a wonderful opportunity for the students to see how our school is directly connected to other countries, such as Japan. This brought real world learning to our school, even when investigating a model island in Japan!
We also met with researchers from the University of Minnesota STEM Education Center, Dr. Gillian Roehrig and Dr. Jeanna Wieselmann to discuss how to best research the impact of these lesson on student leaning with Owatonna students and Shizuoka students. We discussed what would be next steps for building a closer relationship between the schools in Owatonna Minnesota and Shizuoka Japan.