[ MUSEUM-TO-GO PROGRAMS ]
COURTESY BISHOP MUSEUM
"Holoholo Science" students try out telescopes they made themselves.
Lisa Diaz's seventh-grade biology students are budding scientists, studying topics ranging from Hawaii's ecosystem to the classification of animals. Through Bishop Museum's Holoholo Science program, the lessons are enforced with hands-on experience.
For four years, Diaz has scheduled the programs for her students at Kealakehe Intermediate School on the Big Island. "It connects kids to real-life scientists and the real-life environmental problems field biologists help to solve. The program is inquiry-based, which lets kids learn, discover and think like scientists."
Infrared cameras, bug collections, microscopes and a portable planetarium are among the items the museum brings.
Many of these teaching tools "are not within a school's budget, like the portable planetarium," said Nancy Ali, Bishop Museum's science education manager. "The Holoholo program is popular with the neighbor island schools because it gives them access to resources that are often only available on Oahu."
Among Diaz's favorite programs are "Ex-stream Bio Detectives" and "Coral Reef Bleaching Lab."
"Classroom teachers normally do not have access to collections of native Hawaiian species because many are rare and endangered," she said.
"Bishop Museum brings part of their extensive collection from Honolulu and allows outer-island middle school students to work with these specimens, which is a wonderful opportunity."
Among the issues her students have explored through the program: "Should our community build a skate park next to a Hawaiian stream ecosystem?" and "What is causing Hawaii's coral to turn white?"
"It's amazing what students have been able to do in these one-day labs," Diaz said. "The Bishop Museum scientists we have worked with have also offered guidance to our students on their Science Fair projects, continuing the connection."
She plans to book at least two more programs this year.
Windy Cummings, a sixth-grade teacher at Le Jardin Academy, has offered the "Dig This" program in her classroom.
"They get to experience how scientists have to be investigators in real life, and they have fun at the same time," Cummings aid. "This ties into our sixth-grade study of Egypt and archeology."
Holoholo Science began as a trial in 2001 and was offered a year later to schools. A new program is added nearly every year, said Ali.
One of the most popular choices is "Family Science Night," a schoolwide experience that includes families. Options include "Festival of Science" -- an exploration of ecology, biology, geology, medical science and anthropology -- and "Medical Mystery Festival" -- where families become "doctor detectives," visiting stations to listen to the heart, measure breath flow, test eyesight and brush a giant set of teeth. The StarLab planetarium can be added for an additional cost.
Classroom programs cost $4 per student, with a minimum of 60 students. Family Science Nights range from $600 to $1,100.