O‘ahu Environmental Science Series 2023

O‘ahu Homeschool Science Series 2023

2131 Makiki Heights Drive, HNL |  808.955.0100 x126 |  homeschool@hawaiinaturecenter.og

Hawai‘i Nature Center offers a multi-week science series with each class building upon the prior lesson. Created to bring together homeschool students, ages 6 to 11, the weekly 6-hour sessions on Wednesdays are live, in-person and teacher-led. It includes on-campus learning in the Makiki rainforest as well as field trips. Incorporating State of Hawai‘i Next Generation Science Standards, the curriculum explores a broad range of topics led by environmental educators. Topics include: animal lifecycles, freshwater ecosystems, food webs, sound, electricity, colors in nature, invasive species, volcanism and more. Enroll in the discounted semester-long series.

Read & Download the 2023 Course Outline

2023 O‘ahu Homeschool Science Series (for ages 6-11) 

 January 11 – May 10, 2023 | Weekly on Wednesdays from 8:30 am (drop off as early as 8:15 am) to 2:30 pm
Full Semester: $1,375 (purchase all 16 weekly classes) | Individual weekly classes are not available for purchase this semester

No classes will be held on March 15 & 22 due to Spring Nature Adventure Camp. If the session is sold out, contact homeschool@HawaiiNatureCenter.org to be wait-listed for the week(s) desired. Include the number of children you wish to enroll and best contact number.

2023 Lessons Overview

No classes will be held on March 15 & 22 due to Nature Adventure Camp.

January 11 - Nene Week: The "3W" Dispersal
Using the Nene as our flagship species, we begin our semester by exploring what makes the animals and plants so special here in Hawai‘i. We talk about what it means to be ‘endemic,’ how different species arrived here (wind, wings, waves), and what happens to organisms that have been isolated for a very long time.
January 18 - ʻŌhelo Week: Volcanism and Recolonization
One of the first plants to re-colonize a lava flow, the ʻŌhelo is our flagship species as we explore how Hawaii was formed. Learn about geology and volcanology and embark on a rock scavenger hunt. We will study what happens to lava flows after it has cooled and how plants, and animals, can recolonize a once barren landscape.
January 25 - ʻŌpae Week: Freshwater Ecosystems
All living things, including the humble ‘Ōpae need freshwater to live. Explore the differences between freshwater and ocean ecosystems, learn how the Hawaiians traditionally used/carried/and farmed with freshwater, and discuss the threats to this precious resource. Explore Makiki stream’s freshwater biodiversity and habitats.
February 1 - Oʻopu Week: Animal Lifecycles
All living things undergo a life cycle, but few are as incredible as the Oʻopu. Using this amazing fish as an example, we learn about the different types of lifecycles and the changes that happen to animals and plants during development.
February 8 - Hala Tree Week: Plants and Photosynthesis
The Hala tree is our representative for our introduction to plants. Through experimentation and data collection we’ll learn how plants photosynthesize, take a hike through Makiki valley to explore the different types of medicinal, edible, and culturally significant species, discover plant anatomy, and incorporate leaves and other plant parts into an artistic craft.
February 15 - Aeʻo Week: Adaption
With its long legs and long beak, the Aeʻo is a perfect entry into this week’s theme of ‘adaptation.’ Using the various plants and animals in Hawaii as examples, we explore how adaptation occurs, the difference between physical and behavioral adaptations, and take to the field to discover these various adaptations in the wild.
February 22 - Pueo Week: Food Webs and Energy Transfer
As an apex predator, the Pueo symbolizes the highest tier of our forest food chains on island. This week we will learn how energy moves throughout different ecosystems, strategize on how to build the best food chain through an interactive cooperative activity, observe food chain components in the field, and think about how humans fit into it all.
March 1 - ʻŌpeʻapeʻa Week: The Science of Sound
How does sound travel through air? How does temperature play a role in the science of sound? How do we and other animals hear sound? How does echolocation work? The amazing ʻŌpeʻapeʻa (the Hawaiian Hoary Bat) will be our focal animal this week as we explore all these questions, test our own hearing, and complete different sound-based challenges.
March 8 - Tiger Shark Week: The Science of Electricity
Scientists have long known that sharks use electrical pulses to hunt their prey, but how do they do it? What is electricity anyway? This week we study electricity, currents, and charges through several mini labs and hands on investigations. We theorize how animals use electricity to survive and learn how humans do the same!
Certain migratory animals use the planet’s magnetic poles to find their way. Explore magnetism in its many forms- from the geological to compass reading. Participate in migratory challenges, work together to navigate a challenge course, and learn how different animals use the magnetic field to survive.
Different flies tackle flight in different ways, from the soaring albatross to the darting native dragonfly, the Pinao. This week, we will learn how animals fly, why they fly, and the advantages of different types of wings. Using paper airplanes and model wings, we will also take a close look at how wing shape affects flight and learn about several champion fliers of the animal kingdom.
The color changing abilities of the chameleon are one of the neatest examples of cryptic camouflage in the animal kingdom. Students explore the different types of camouflage through activities and in the field, as well as learn about several animal and plant examples that are serving as inspiration for new technology.
Where some animals might want to blend in, flowers often want to stand out. We learn about the opposite of camouflage this week- from bright blooms, to warning colors, to birds and flowers with patterns visible only under UV light. We also think about our own eyes and how we process all the visual information.
The common cinnabar polypore is one of the most common fungi in Makiki valley. This week we study what makes a fungus a fungus, its life cycle , and its role in culture and medicine. We will identify the various types of species we see and investigate their role as decomposers.
The introduction of the mongoose is a cautionary lesson in invasive species and the harm they can
create in an environment. This week, we learn how and why foreign species are introduced, study their effects on an ecosystem, and learn how we can help protect what native species remain.
The extinct ‘O’o is our final flagship species as we think about the changes that are occurring on Earth today. From invasive species to climate change, we investigate the different threats facing our natural world but leave on a positive note, with a pledge to make simple changes for big differences!

Gear Up & Get Ready

  • Eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Wear clothes and closed-toe (hiking or athletic) shoes that can get wet and dirty.
  • Put on mosquito repellent and sunscreen at home.
  • Leave anything expensive, valuable, or fragile at home.

What to Pack Daily

  • Small backpack
  • Water bottle
  • Morning snacks and a big lunch (no refrigeration)
  • Extra change of clothes, raincoat/poncho and water shoes
  • Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • COVID facemasks (optional)

REFUND & CANCELLATION POLICY – SEMESTER  If you cancel your enrollment 7 days or more prior to the start of the program, you will receive a refund less a $100 cancellation fee per child AND associated administrative processing fees. If you cancel your enrollment for the entire program within 7 days of program start or up to 6 weeks after the program has started, we will refund 50% of your program fee per child. Memberships purchased during enrollment will not be refunded.

There are no refunds after the end of the 6th week of the program. There are no refunds or makeups for individual classes missed.

REFUND & CANCELLATION POLICY – WEEKLY If you cancel your enrollment 7 days or more prior to the start of the weekly session, you will receive a refund less a $25 cancellation fee per child AND associated administrative processing fees. Enrollment is non-refundable if for any reason if you cancel within 7 days of the first day of each weekly session. We will make every effort to reschedule the cancelled week to a later week in the semester. Memberships purchased during enrollment are non-refundable.

THIRD PARTY REGISTRATION POLICY  Hawai’i Nature Center does not accept third party registrations or registrations on behalf of other friends or family–the registering child’s parent or guardian must be the individual to complete and submit all registration information. If we determine that a third party has completed your child’s registration, your registration will be cancelled and we will refund your tuition. A $50 cancellation fee per child per week and administrative processing fees will be charged.

COVID-19 SAFETY  Keeping children, families and our staff safe is our highest priority.  Health and safety measures are in place to keep participants safe. Modifications include smaller group size to accommodate social distancing. We’ve added six feet of social distancing in our seating arrangements. Facemasks are optional. More frequent and easier-to-monitor hand washing is required. Frequent disinfecting of surfaces and high traffic areas are performed. Since our programs are outdoors, we have lots of room to spread out and enjoy the fresh air while exploring nature.


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