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M. A. Kadooka - Biography

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An education course about nurturing children, a general science course with its emphasis on the history of science, and a college physics course were instrumental in a decision to become a physics teacher. With a Bachelors of Education degree from University of Hawaii in physical science and a minor in mathematics, Mary Ann Kadooka first taught physical science and mathematics at Washington Intermediate and Niu Valley Intermediate Schools in Honolulu, Hawaii.

After two years in San Francisco working as a counselor for high school dropouts in Chinatown with the California Department of Employment, she returned to Hawaii and started teaching physics at McKinley High. She later received her Masters of Education degree in Educational Administration. After completion of SAT training to qualify for a vice-principal position, she became involved in too many projects and kept postponing on-the-job training. She decided her love for physics and students was too great to leave the classroom. She would remain a classroom teacher.

Initially, she used national programs such as PSSC (Post-=Sputnik physics course) and Harvard Project Physics (designed for those interested in liberal arts) to promote physics. Mary Ann was a participant at an NSF-sponsored Teacher Institute in 1972 on Project Physics at San Diego State University and was one of two teachers to pilot this program in Hawaii. The astronomy unit in Project Physics with activities such as plotting the Orbit of Mars and the Orbit of a Comet stimulated her interest in astronomy. In 1977, she attended a NASA-sponsored Astronomy workshop, where she launched her first model rocket, and experienced a 20-minute ride in an acrobatic airplane, accelerating to 120 miles per hour to maneuver loops, spirals, and a hammerhead stroke. Looking up at the ocean was a strange sensation; so was having the engine go off whenever the plane was upside-down. (It was not a Pit Special). Since 1985, she has participated in many institutes and has heard astronauts lecture on Toys in Space, Fluids in Weightlessness and so on. In 1992, she was invited to the Space Physics Workshop at University of Iowa and toured the VLF radio telescope there.

To work on projects Mary Ann has written and received a 1990 Effective Schools Grant for $5,000 for Satellite Imaging, in 1990 GTE-GIFT Grant for $12,000 for Physics-Algebra Integration, a 1990 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching for $7,500, a 1993-1997 Innovative-Incentive Grant for a physics/ Mathematics/ Technical Trades Project for $125,000, and a 1994 Tandy Technology Scholars Award for $2,500.

Today the physics program at McKinley High includes Conceptual Physics open to students in grade 9-12, Advanced Placement Physics - C (calculus-based) and College Prep Physics. History of astronomy with Galileo and Kepler plays an important role in developing the unit on universal law of gravitation in the physics course. Physics is applied to astronomy whenever possible. Also, a pilot physics course for students entering electronics and auto mechanics has just begun.

Last Updated on December 5, 1999

Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii