Waipahu Touting STEM With Video Games

Breaking away from more conventional tactics of teaching, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs utilize hands-on thinking to engage students.

The integration of STEM programs at Waipahu High School was on display March 27 through its DimensionU competition.

“DimensionU is a universe of educational video games where students practice … subjects that include math and literacy,” explained Amelia Cook, a teacher at Waipahu High School who organized the event.

As part of this year’s “House Cup” competition, freshmen enrolled in Algebra 1 classes competed against each other using video games from gaming company DimensionU Inc.

Students advanced through timed video games that covered topics including the operation of polynomials and more.

Approximately 450 students currently are involved in the program. The math covered in the DimensionU program covers concepts up to Algebra 2.

“Waipahu High School uses DimensionU to help with the retention of concepts through an engaging medium,” said Cook.

Algebra 2 teachers often use DimensionU to help their students review Algebra 1 concepts, and Cook also points out that the program is integrated into many aspects of student life.

“DimensionU is used in our classrooms, before and after school, during lunch, and at home where we can play with or against our friends or others across the country,” she said.

In addition to assisting with an overall understanding of mathematical concepts, DimensionU also is used to help prepare students for the Hawaii State Assessment tests.

“Teachers have used DimensionU as an intervention tool to focus on mastering the basic math concepts such as fractions, decimals and percents during winter break and spring break,” Cook explained.

Funded by a grant from the federal Department of Defense STEM initiative, DimensionU is in its fourth year at the school.