Molokai Middle School receives NOAA grant

Molokai Middle School recently received an $88,213 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a project titled “Promoting Cultural Based Knowledge and Practices through Environmental Stewardship and Preservation.” The grant extends from August 2015 through August 2016. The work is being led by Molokai Middle School Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP) teacher and principal investigator Iolani Kuoha, with assistance from school staff and community partnerships.

Kuoha, inspired by her father Joseph Hamakua, a Kahuna La`au Lapa`au (medicinal practitioner), wrote this grant to enable students to perpetuate stewardship and develop leadership skills. “Our goal, through science-based outdoor learning projects, is to instill in the students the need for engaging in cultural-based knowledge and preservation efforts on Molokai,” said Kuoha, who was named 2015 Educator of the Year by the Hawaii Association of Middle Schools. “In addition, with a priority in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects we hope to continually increase our overall school achievement on the Hawai`i State Science Assessment.” The project starts with the students, parents, teachers and community of stakeholders. It includes collaboration, integration of core curriculum with community support, and an island-wide approach to environmental education. The benefits extend to the `aina (land) and the kai (sea) as students learn to protect and restore Molokai’s environment.

The project will include research plans directly related to culture and science through the study of native plant propagation, relevant watershed issues, erosion from ungulates, invasive-species removal and more. Community stakeholders will assist students with their research, written reports, technological tools and oral presentations. The NOAA grant has already helped the school gain recognition as the Most Improved School in the State.

“School partnerships with community organizations enhance the common goals and objectives of this project,” said Kuoha. “Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and Women in Technology are among the NOAA partners that are helping all HLIP and other students learn employable skills using STEM resources. We hope to continue mini-workshops with support from MEDB and to present our achievements at their annual STEM Conference on Maui.”

Our goal with the NOAA grant is to instill in the students the need for cultural-based knowledge and preservation efforts on Molokai.

Iolani Kuoha, Molokai Middle School HLIP Teacher

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