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Three students with a paintball
Students use Swift to program a robot to paint

Science and art collide in University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu’s newest creative media course—a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) class—among the first in the UH system.

In fall 2023, UH West Oʻahu Associate Professor of Chemistry Brad Ashburn began teaching Creative Media 108 (CM 108): Creative process in the physical sciences, a unique collaboration between the creative media and the mathematics, natural, and health sciences departments.

“Usually when I think of science, I think of numbers and lab reports and rigid experiments that the professor already knows the answer to. But CM 108 uses design and science together,” creative media student Ashley Macho said. “I get to do artsy stuff whilst also learning science. And since it’s design, everything the groups in my class make will be different. There is no correct answer.”

students and instructor around two laptops
Students learn about SwiftIO Playground circuit boards from Brad Ashburn (right)

In the course, students explore problems of the physical sciences, create and test hypotheses, interpret results, and iterate designs. Mechanical and electronic devices are designed and built using physical science and computational reasoning and calculation. The creative process of science is emphasized and practiced throughout the course.

CM 108 sparks creativity and curiosity about the natural world and teaches our students to view science through an artistic lens,” said Sharla Hanoaka, director of UH West Oʻahu’s Academy for Creative Media. “Problem-solving processes differ across disciplines. This course exposes them to new ways of breaking down challenges and finding solutions in a creative way.”

CM 108 students use Swift, a powerful, modern and safe programming language used by software developers to build applications for Apple iPhone, iPad, Macs and more. It is also approachable and fun for beginners to learn to code.

“The goal of this collaboration is to broaden participation in computing at UH West Oʻahu with a hands-on, project-based approach to learning science that allows for students to flex their creativity,” Ashburn said.

For more visit Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.
—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman

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