UH-Hilo to teach
science Hawaiian style

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> The University of Hawaii at Hilo has been awarded a $2.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics using Hawaiian history and culture, the university announced.

The program is designed to reach students of Hawaiian ancestry who have not been attracted to the sciences by standard teaching methods, the announcement said.

Other ethnic groups may also participate, said David Sing, director of the UHH Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Students.

An indication of how the program would work is seen in its name, Keaholoa, meaning "the long fishing line."

The title refers to a Hawaiian proverb that says a fisherman of the deep sea has a long line, said UHH Hawaiian language professor Kalena Silva.

The idea is that a "long line" is also needed to fish for deep knowledge.

The grant, obtained by UHH geography professor Sonia Juvik, will be received in $500,000 increments over five years.

Some of the money will be used by Sing for weekend and summer programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

At the university, the introductory class will be STEM 101, named for science, technology, engineering and math.

Advanced classes would include rainforest restoration, volcano studies and "ethnomathematics," which would look at the math of Hawaiian navigation, symmetries in Hawaiian textiles, and spatial relationships in fish nets and knots, for example.

An essential element in both the pre-college and university programs would be hands-on experiences outside the classroom, Sing said.

An example might be applying scientific concepts to a wetland taro field, he said.

Some people complain that schools can't afford field trips for hands-on learning, Sing said.

He answers, "You can't afford not to."


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