Sustainability through Traditional Hawaiian Practices

K-12 Science Curricula
Culturally Relevant Professional Development

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Project Goal


To develop and disseminate K-12 science curricula that is both standards based and culturally relevant to Hawaii's students, especially of those of Hawaiian ancestry.

To provide K-12 teachers with culturally relevant professional development.

Malama I Ka `Aina aims to improve and expand the education of Hawai`i's children by developing and disseminating new science curricular materials based on an understanding and appreciation of the ways in which traditional Hawaiians effectively managed the environment for sustainability.

The parallels among traditional Hawaiian methods of environmental management and modern, sustainable methods of waste treatment form the basis of many of the materials produced in this program.


How It Works

Elementary, middle, high school and University of Hawai'i teachers work together to develop and implement curricula that are especially relevant to a particular school's science or ag-science program, students, community and geographical location.

Teachers who have developed exemplary, standards-based culture-science curricula play a key role in the program by providing outreach to colleagues and the community.


"Malama I Ka `Aina, Sustainability" is a Science Content Standard in the state of Hawai`i.

Translated as "caring for the land," it is based on the way traditional Hawaiians viewed interactions among people and their environment.

It mandates that "students make decisions needed to sustain life on Earth now and for future generations by considering limited resources and fragile environmental conditions.

In pre-contact Hawaii, Hawaiians living in land divisions called ahupua`a understood, respected, and made decisions based on the connections between mauka (upslope) and makai (coastal) activities.

Self-sufficiency was attained through exchanging products and conserving resources within an ahupua`a which typically was a land unit extending from mountain top to the edge of the reef, containing a stream and bordered by ridges on either side.

Pre-Contact Hawai'i
Department of Education


Malama I Ka `Aina: Using Traditional Hawaiian and Modern Environmental Practices to Develop Standards-Based K-12 Science Curricula for Teachers of Hawaiian and Part-Hawaiian Students is funded by the US Department of Education, Native Hawaiian Curriculum Development, Teacher Training and Recruitment Program.


Sustainability through Traditional Hawaiian Practices

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Website and Media Produced by Joe McGinn
Last updated: July 10, 2008
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