Our Islands, Our Future

A Hana School project is helping students get in touch with ancient Native Hawaiian navigational practices while cutting their teeth on cutting-edge technology. The “Never Lost” project’s first phase is a blog-based curriculum in which students use the Internet to track the voyaging canoe Hikianalia, the sister ship of Hokule`a, as it makes the second leg of its maiden voyage from Tahiti to Hawai`i. The Polynesian Voyaging Society’s website will host the blog and data exchange. Supported by the MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund, students will develop science, technology, engineering and math skills as they take astronomical observations and use Hawaiian techniques for marine navigation.

Teacher Paulo Burns said he used the $5,000 Ke Alahele grant to purchase 10 Nexus tablets. “The students are using the tablets and really enjoy the ease of searching on the Internet and using some of the apps such as Google Sky,” he said. With the technology in place, students next year will monitor the Hikianalia’s voyage. “We will be monitoring their blogs as they travel and communicating with them via the tablets,” Burns said. “We will ask questions and analyze the data that they will be pumping out.” That data is expected to include waypoints, water temperature, wind direction and water salinity. With more than 80 percent of Hana school’s enrollment having either Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian descent, the project will teach students the navigational practices of their ancestors.

Paulo Burns, teacher at Hana School

Burns said he is “very grateful for MEDB supporting our students in Hana and the technology is currently being used to better their education as 21st century learners.” The 2013 MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner & Auction will be held Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Grand Wailea Resort. For more information, call 875-2300, or visit