Connect culture and science using Hawaiian language newspapers

Hawaiian language newspaper articles provide detailed insights into Hawaiian experiences of storms, drought, wind, rain, tsunami and volcanic activity. These newspaper articles provide evidence of high literacy rates, acute environmental awareness, and cultural values for recording and sharing information in Hawaiian communities.

At present, 95 percent of the Hawaiian-language repository remains accessible only to those who can read the Hawaiian language. The Kahua A’o project drew upon a database containing more than 4,000 articles related to earth science, mo‘olelo (traditional stories), and ‘ōlelo no‘eau (traditional sayings). This extensive body of Hawaiian knowledge and language has the potential to support place-based research and education across the content areas.


Develop lesson plans using Hawaiian language newspapers

Hanauma Bay- The newspapers are windows to the past into which we peer for hints and clues that guide us forward. In our field trip to Hanauma Bay, we integrated Atmospheric Science and Geology with a 1926 Hawaiian language newspapers article in Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, which described Hanauma as a popular site for visitors and a good fishing area. We also selected an article that said if you ascend the ridge of Kuamo‘okāne, you will observe the favorable winds for sailing to Moloka‘i.

Hawaiian Volcanoes Lesson- In our Hawaiian Volcanoes lesson: No Nā Lua Pele, we tapped into the stories of Pele searching for a home for herself that would be safe from the waters of her nemesis and older sister, Nāmakaokaha‘i. We took the places where Pele dug on each island to find a home for her eternal fires, and correlated it with the concept of rejuvenation stage volcanism, using writings from the past to offer students different perspectives for looking at the same phenomenon.

kahuaao group

A professional development model grounded in place-based, culturally sustaining, experiential learning


A professional development model that promotes teachers’ place-based LifeSTEM expertise supports the emergence of curricular leaders able to incorporate knowledge of Hawaii’s fauna, flora, and culture into place-based lessons that engage students in meaningful learning. Professional learning communities present LifeSTEM content in the context of plants and animals of high economic, cultural, and ecological importance and provide teachers and students with experiential learning in their own familiar places.  Below, videos by Outside Hawai’i show middle school students on a field trip in their own ahupua’a. Their teachers collaborated with Malama Learning Center and received support from Kamehameha Schools, Wai’anae Region.

Place-based learning

Place-Based Science with Wai’anae Intermediate School, part 1

Place-based Science with Wai’anae Intermediate School, part 2


  • 2017-2021 NSF Award No.1721356
    • Transforming Scientific Practices to Promote Students Interest and Motivation in the Life Sciences: A Teacher Leadership Development Intervention.
  • 2015-2017 NSF Award No.1551502
    • Exploring Ways to Transform Teaching Practices to Increase Native Hawaiian Students’ Interest in STEM.
  • 2011-2014 NSF Award No.1108569
    • Kahua A‘o – A Learning Foundation: Using Hawaiian Language Newspaper Articles for Place and Culture-based Geoscience Teacher Education and Curriculum Development.