Maui Huliau Foundation, a nonprofit organization offering environmental education programs to Maui youth ages 12-18, is partnering with at least 15 local conservation organizations to launch new distance learning resources for the upcoming school year. The project, called the “Maui Aloha ʻĀina Virtual Classroom” will release distance learning resources aimed at grades 8-12 every two weeks beginning August 10th. Each unit will feature a different partner organization with self-directed distance learning lessons both online and outdoors at various partner sites. Some units will also feature virtual field trips created by Maui Huliau’s filmmaking students or virtual guest speakers on local conservation topics.
Partners for the project so far include Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Nohoʻana Farm, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, East Maui Watershed Partnership, Maui Ocean Center, Grow Some Good, NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Digital Bus, Mauna Kahālāwai Watershed Partnership, and Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership, with more to be added in spring semester.
“With so many educational programs cancelled or restricted due to the pandemic, this program may be the only opportunity many students have this school year to learn about native ecosystems and conservation efforts in Maui County.” says Kim Thayer of Mauna Kahālāwai Watershed Partnership, a Maui Aloha ʻĀina Virtual Classroom partner.
A tentative fall schedule and enrollment information for students can be found on Maui Huliau Foundation’s newly launched virtual classroom web page: mauihuliaufoundation.org/classroom
Students in grades 8-12 can enroll via the website in this free program to gain access to the Google Classroom with assistance from Maui Huliau Foundation staff. Students who complete all unit activities and quizzes by the end of the school year will receive a certificate of completion from Maui Huliau Foundation. Each two week unit is expected to take 2-4 hours per week to complete and is intended as a supplement to the various learning models being offered by both public and private school programs this school year. There is also a separate section of the web page and Google Classroom registration for teachers who may want to use these resources to supplement distance learning for their students.
“We know that many students, parents and teachers are concerned about the impacts that COVID-19 and distance learning will have on education this school year.” says Malia Cahill, Executive Director of Maui Huliau Foundation. “We were thrilled to receive such an enthusiastic response from our partner organizations about participating in this project. We hope that this will be an opportunity to expose more students to local conservation ecology, cultural knowledge, and the important work of these partner organizations.”
In addition to the Maui Aloha ʻĀina Virtual Classroom, the web page also includes a new distance learning version of the Huliau Climate Literacy Project which has been developed by Maui Huliau Foundation in collaboration with science teachers and program partners over the past three school years. The mission of the project is to work with science teachers in grades 8- 12 to integrate hands-on climate literacy activities into their curriculum in alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards.
Similar to the Maui Aloha ʻĀina Virtual Classroom, the Huliau Climate Literacy Classroom includes both a direct enrollment and certification option for students in grades 8-12, and Google Classroom registration for teachers. The teacher classroom will launch August 17th and will include suggested in-class activities paired with weekly student-directed distance learning activities. The two week units for students exploring climate change causes, impacts and solutions will also begin August 17th. The fourth quarter of the program will involve a final student-led project relating to a local climate change solution, with assistance from Maui Huliau Foundation staff and partners.
“The Huliau Climate Literacy Project provides teachers and students the opportunity to learn about global threats to coral reefs like ocean acidification and coral bleaching. One activity involves analyzing past bleaching events that occurred in Hawai’i” says Lily Solano, Program Director of Maui Huliau Foundation. “The student-led projects provide opportunities to explore and implement solutions in their community to combat climate change.”
A tentative schedule and more information can be found on the Maui Huliau Foundation website. Students in grades 8-12 from all schools with an interest in environmental education are encouraged to enroll in either or both classrooms, offering up to 4-8 hours of activities per week.
In addition to these new virtual classroom programs, Maui Huliau Foundation is also offering hybrid versions of their popular filmmaking and leadership programs involving both virtual and in-person activities. This year’s Huliau Environmental Filmmaking Club, now in its 11th school year, will engage students in grades 7-12 in creating virtual field trips for the Maui Aloha ʻĀina Virtual Classroom throughout the fall semester beginning August 17th. The Huliau Leadership Council will offer monthly virtual meetings for grades 9-12 from September to May to plan various youth-led environmental service and leadership projects. Both programs have application deadlines in August and more details and applications can be found on their website at mauihuliaufoundation.org