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Native Hawaiian Math and Science Project

NNEF joined with Nā Pua No'eau: Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children and Hālau Lōkahi Public Charter School, a K-12 in the development of a Native Hawaiian Math and Science Curriculum and Improvement Project for Native Hawaiian youth in grades 7-12. Funded by the US Department of Education under the Native Hawaiian Education Act, this program was designed to:

    • Develop a culturally and linguistically relevant math and science curricula that is sequential across various content areas in grades 7-12.
    • Provide in-service training for classroom teachers for the development of new skills, knowledge and teaching strategies appropriate to Native Hawaiian youth.
    • Provide opportunities for students to participate in meaningful special research projects that contribute to the welfare of Hawaiian people.
    • Provide summer math and science camps that are high interest and culturally appropriate.
    • Conduct field trips to engage in scientific research.
    • Provide for an intensive on-going research/evaluation component of each project activity, student performance and teaching.
    • Involve kūpuna (elders) as kumu (teachers) and mentors in the Summer Math and Science Camps and Special research projects.

Towards this end, NNEF completed, tested and refined three modules of Native Hawaiian culturally-based, college preparatory curriculum for use by students in Grades 7-12. The central focus of every lesson was to build knowledge and critical thinking skills in regards to the scientific method, math and Hawaiian cultural values. A Technology thread was tied into each unit to build student skill and proficiency. Hawaiian language and culture was also interwoven into each unit and used as a basis for comparison to other world views, in both the native and western contexts. These modules included:

    • "Ecology: Science of Place": This module required students to look critically at the biological world through the eyes of Native peoples. Although focused on Native Hawaiian culture, this module could be adapted to fit other teaching needs and cultures. This unit defines the unique relationships, interaction, and connection indigenous people have with the environment. Defining a "sense of place" was explored through a variety of hands-on learning activities, a research project, field trips, and discussions. Students explored their individual and cultural connections to "place" and tied it in to the relationships and interactions that occur in the natural world. Flora and fauna interaction, feeding relationships, and food webs are main concepts covered in this module.
    • "Volcanology: Science of Storytelling": For centuries, Native Hawaiians recorded historical events via storytelling and oral knowledge transfer. This module required students to explore geology and the study of volcanoes through a study of Mo'olelo (Hawaiian stories). This unit was intended to be conducted on the island of Hawai'i and ties in natural resources located on the island, such as Kīlauea Crater, Halema'uma'u, and Mauna Kea. Hawaiian concepts of the volcano were explored through several field studies, hands-on leaning activities, readings & discussions, and group work. Cross-cultural applications were suggested to compare and contrast other cultural views of the volcano. Lava flow history, geology of the Hawaiian Islands, and the island life cycle are main concepts covered in this module.
    • "Math/Science Across Native Cultures": Native people have long maintained they are "all related". This module allows students to compare, contrast, and analyze math and science across Native cultural groups. Focus is on the cosmology (astronomy/traditions) and calendar systems of these indigenous groups. Students learn to identify ancient star systems, beliefs, and purposes. The stories of the indigenous groups as related to cosmology (science), architecture (math), and plants (science) are also examined and compared.

NNEF was pleased to have had over 1,000 parents/community persons, teachers, and elders participate over the course of the project. One hundred and thirty-five (135) students participated in creating this Hawaiian culturally relevant and academically rigorous curriculum geared toward increasing academic achievement in the Native Hawaiian community. **Curriculum available for download soon!!!