Teachers encouraged to apply for outdoor science professional development program

WAIMEA — Hawaii teachers and their students will have opportunities this year to leave the classroom and study firsthand the island’s ahupuaa, or traditional Hawaiian mountain-to-sea land divisions.

The Kohala Center is recruiting middle and high school teachers from West Hawaii and throughout the state for its Hawaii Meaningful Environmental Education for Teachers (HI-MEET) program — an innovative, hands-on, science-based program that focuses on bay and watershed education.

The free yearlong program will start with a three-day hands-on workshop in Waimea that will introduce teachers to The Kohala Center’s Huli Aina Kumu Wai (watershed investigations) field science curriculum, which aligns with NGSS and Common Core standards. The workshop will include instruction on Hawaiian cultural protocol, kilo observation skills, field sampling techniques, watershed education and 14 lessons to share with middle and high school students.

Free accommodations in Waimea are available for up to 20 participants, as well as travel stipends for up to six teachers traveling to Waimea from other islands.

The HI-MEET program also offers teachers five professional development (PDE3) credits with the Hawaii State Department of Education; resources to support field science work with students such as transportation, logistics and classroom support for the 2017–2018 school year; $200 for field science supplies; a data analysis workshop in February 2018; and a Youth Science Symposium in April 2018, during which students will present their research and findings for peer review and discussion.

The deadline to apply for the HI-MEET program is June 30. Prospective applicants can view a complete program overview and apply online at kohalacenter.org/hi-meet, or contact Ilene Grossman at The Kohala Center for more information at igrossman@kohalacenter.org or 887-6411.

Teachers who have participated in previous sessions are eligible and encouraged to apply again.

Staff from The Kohala Center will provide technical, logistical and programmatic support to selected teachers during the academic year. Scientists and cultural experts working in these areas will also participate in the program through classroom presentations and project support.

“This program is a great opportunity for teachers to lead their students in field-based hands-on environmental science research projects,” said Grossman, The Kohala Center’s environmental educator and program leader. “Teachers will be able to train their students to be citizen scientists and contribute to the knowledge and stewardship of the island’s ecosystems.”

Through the program, students will learn about ahupuaa through classroom presentations and field trips, and identify and implement a scientific research project on topics such as coral reefs, forest flora and fauna, water quality, climate change, non-point source pollution, runoff, sedimentation and marine debris. The program will culminate in a year-end symposium at which students and teachers can share their research work and learning.

The project is supported by NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET) funding and Kamehameha Schools.

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