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Saint John Paul the Great creates new STEM department

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Hassan Moore believes Americans today are great users of technology, but when it comes to understanding and creating technology, we’re falling short. 

“We used to be a world leader in technological progress, but we stopped making things a long time ago in America,” said Moore, a native of New Orleans, who has taught physics, engineering, computer programming and math. 

Moore joins the faculty at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Potomac Shores as chairman of a new STEM department this fall. 

The school is known for its world-class bioethics program, and now Moore will work with the current science and math departments to “assist in injecting technology and engineering” into the curriculum. “We’re looking at the fullness of STEM,” he said. 

Moore said he wants students to think about “how do you know what you know, and how well do you know it?” That involves using computational models, such as Galileo’s law of free fall, which he introduced over the summer to students in fifth through eighth grades at a new STEM Camp, aimed at getting middle school students interested in the STEM fields. “Then when they come to John Paul, we can build on that,” he said.

He will teach introductory computer programming, and next year plans to add robotics. “You have to know how to program first,” he said. “A robot is just a dumb chunk of parts until you tell it what to do, and that’s where the coding comes in.” 

Students in the STEM program also will develop software and create apps to fulfill market needs, he said, always “guided by ethical behavior in the things we create.”

Moore said he’s had a basic curiosity about the world since he was a child. “I always wanted to know how everything works,” and always took things apart to find out “how it all goes back together.” 

He earned a doctorate in atmospheric physics from Howard University in Washington and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. His bachelor’s in physics is from Dillard University in New Orleans.

After earning his doctorate, he taught at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., for two years before moving to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he worked for 10 years and became an associate professor. He also chaired the K-12 Science Textbook Adoption Committee for the state of Alabama.

Moore, his wife, Laurie, and their son, Ethan, returned to this area in 2017 to be near family. He previously taught at John Paul the Great in 2018-19. 

When his students learn about STEM subjects, he wants them to gain an understanding of “this is how a scientist works, this is how an engineer works,” Moore said.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021