Kahua A‘o - A Learning Foundation: Uses Hawaiian Language Newspaper Articles for Place- and Culture-based Geoscience Teacher’s Education and Curriculum Development.

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Opening of the Institute of the Hawaiian Language Research and Translation (IHLRT)  at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in June 2016 provides a new Hawaiʻian-English language database of an expanding number of articles. By increasing access to science-oriented articles in English and Hawaiian, both projects provide historical, cultural, and place-based resources for educators and scientists thus bringing Native Hawaiian voices and viewpoints into place-based STEM education.  Including language, visual and performing arts more fully conveys Hawaiian ecological knowledge and connects past knowledge to current issues and possible solutions. By grounding curriculum development in Hawaiian language and knowledge, we look to the past for guidance as we move towards a sustainable future.

Connecting to Our Past:


Hawaiian language newspaper articles provide detailed insights into Hawaiian experiences of storms, drought, wind, rain, tsunami and volcanic activity. Observations on plants and animals of land and sea as well as sometimes critical commentaries on human activities provide evidence of high literacy rates, acute environmental awareness, and cultural values for recording and sharing information in Hawaiian communities. 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).  The Transforming Practices project draws upon a greatly expanded, searchable database of all known Hawaiʻian newspaper articles, equivalent to a million pages of text.  This extensive body of Hawaiian knowledge and language has the potential to support place-based research and education across the content areas.  At present, 95 percent of the Hawaiian-language repository remains accessible only to those who can read the Hawaiian language.

Articles from Hawaiian language newspapers published between 1834 and 1948 provide a foundation for these lessons.  More than 100 Hawaiian newspapers served as a repository for Hawai’i's rich, oral literature as well as a space to share news and commentary on current issues.  King David Kalākaua was known as the editor king for his work on various Hawaiian newspapers. Hawaiian newspapers convey an intellectual tradition of close observation, communicating, and inviting commentary that created an educational, political, economic, and literary forum for sharing both traditional as well as new knowledge as Hawaiian society entered the global arena in the 19th century.

Hawaiian Language Newspapers:

Project Summaries:

Exploring Ways to Transform Teaching Practices provides a model for professional development that sustains indigenous languages and knowledge and recognizes teachers as cultural translators who are able to incorporate diverse cultural resources into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) curriculum development. Two teacher cohorts build upon field-based, experiential learning to write 4-8th grade curricula aligned to NGSS with real-world applications integrating Hawaiian and 21st Century STEM.  NSF underwrites the collaboration among the College of Education, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and School of Hawaiian Knowledge (Hawaiʻinuiākea).  


Kahua Aʻo provides research-oriented, place, culture, and standards-based Earth science STEM lessons with activities targeted to middle school grades that are ready to implement.  Teachers of Hawai’i's culturally diverse students will find lessons that incorporate Hawaiʻian language newspaper articles particularly relevant to the 30% of K-12 students who are of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander ancestry.  Kahua Aʻo is a collaborative effort among the College of Education, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and School of Hawaiian Knowledge (Hawaiʻinuiākea), funded by NSF.

Limahuli Garden and Preserve, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai

Welcome to Exploring Ways to Transform Teaching Practices

and Kahua A‘o websites

Photos by Steven Businger, June 2016 Kaua'i Immersion (1-20)
and Scott Rowland, June 2017 Hawaiʻi Immersion (21-99)

Exploring Ways to Transform Teaching Practices to Increase

Native Hawaiian Student's Interest and Participation in STEM