UPDATE – Read National Geographic blog about the KHS BioBlitz by Amber Strong Makaiau.
Amber Strong Makaiau, Associate Specialist in the College of Education (COE) Institute for Teacher Education Secondary Program, won the first C3 – College, Career, and Civic Life – Teachers Inquiry Challenge in collaboration with Kailua High School (KHS) social studies teachers, COE social studies teacher candidates, and the Hawai‘i National Geographic Alliance.
The three-week C3 Framework National Geographic BioBlitz inquiry was designed for social studies students at KHS. During the Spring 2016 semester, seven of the high school’s teachers, including COE teacher candidates, planned and carried out the inquiry with 250 students.
They began the inquiry by introducing the students to the compelling question, “Can humans reverse the negative effects they have had on the environment?” From there, students developed their own questions and planned their inquiry; applied disciplinary concepts and tools related to the field of geography; evaluated sources, used evidence, communicated their conclusions, and took informed action.
“This national prize is really a testament to all of the hard work that the KHS social studies department, the ITE secondary program, and the Hawai‘i National Geographic Alliance put into planning and carrying out the challenge,” Makaiau said. “It is a true acknowledgement that what we are doing with social studies curriculum and instruction is not only on the right path, but leading the way for other educators in our nation.” Makaiau, who earned both her MEdT and PhD from the COE, submitted the inquiry to the challenge.
The BioBlitz portion of the project occurred last May when three different groups of KHS teachers worked alongside cultural experts, biologists, botanists, and others to support students as they gathered data in a five different geographic regions located in the Kailua and Waimānalo ahupua‘a: Ka Iwi Coast, UH CTHAR Waimānalo Research Station, Ulupō Heiau, Nā Pōhaku and Kahana Iki.
The award includes a $500 cash prize for the KHS social studies department and publication of the inquiry on the C3 Teachers website where it will be shared globally through a Creative Commons license.