Science of Environmental Systems Field Course for Educators

Island of Kauai, Hawaii
June 20-27 and July 18-25, 2015

Learn amazing thing about the Integrated aspects of Earth’s Environmental Systems

An educational Activity-Filled Week Designed Specifically for Science Educators

The Island of Kauai is perfect location to explore the dynamic complex aspects of ecosystems. Being the oldest of the high volcanic mountain-islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago, Kauai has had the longest time to develop distinct environmental systems such as lush rain forests, huge river valleys, and sun-baked coastal settings with coral reefs, sandy beaches and rocky intertidal zones. The near-circular, 30-mile diameter island with mountain-top bogs over 5,000 feet high represents a relatively compact, nearly closed interactive island ecosystem. With its abundance of watershed-organized environmental settings, its relative ease of access, and its low level of urbanization, Kauai is without question a world class location in which to investigate complex environmental systems.

This week of learning involves five days of introductory lectures and interactive field trips. Dynamic environments are observed, measured, analyzed and discussed. Emphasis is placed on exploring the character of each ecosystem and on the development of a better understanding of the modifying influences of their human occupants. Daily activities include hiking, swimming and snorkeling in some of Kauai’s unique environmental settings. An initial day is spent examining the island’s geology and reviewing the volcanic and plate-tectonic origin of the Hawaiian Archipelago. The biogeography of the island’s flora and fauna is introduced and examined along with discussions of the impact island discovery and occupation by humans. The dynamic interactive beach and coral/algal reef coastal ecosystems are investigated in detail and discussed in terms of the impact of global climate change on oceanic island shorelines. Overall, by the end of the week, Kauai will appear as a microcosm of the planet, providing thoughts as to how humans might better interact with their natural environmental settings.


Arrival (Saturday, Lihue, Kauai)
Airport pickup and transport to the Poipu for check in and evening reception.

Day 1: Geologic Origins (Waimea Canyon)
Exploration into the geology of Hawaii with a hike along the Canyon Trail into the spectacular 2,500 ft deep “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Activities include scale modeling of the Earth, a review of the origin of the volcanic mountain-islands of Hawaii, and examination of some of the plants and animals of Kauai’s near-native mountain forest.

Day 2: Coastal Ecosystems (Beaches and Dunes)
Investigation into the formation of coastal sediments on a mid-ocean volcanic island with trips to several of Kauai’s world famous beaches. Activities include the construction of beach profiles, the description of beach deposits and discovery of the origins of the sand that makes up a beach. Swimming in the surf will help you understand what a sand grain has to go through.

Day 3: Biogeography (Limahuli Botanical Garden; Na Pali Coast Hike)
Morning review of isolated island biogeography followed by a tour through Lumahuli Gardens to view and discuss native and Polynesian introduced plants of Hawaii. Late afternoon hike along the Na Pali coast to view vegetation and discuss the origin of the dramatic sea cliffs of the northwestern portion of the island of Kauai.

Day 4: Shallow Marine Reef Ecosystems (Pilaa Reef)
Morning lecture on the character and origin of Hawaii’s amazing nearshore marine reef platforms. Field trip to snorkel on and systematically survey one of Kauai’s pristine shallow fringing reefs in order to discover the uniqueness of Hawaii’s marine reef ecosystem (corals, algae, fish, turtles).

Day 5: Hawaii’s Response to Global Climate Fluctuations
Lecture on the history of sea level fluctuation in the Pacific followed by a field trip to Kauai’s lithified sand dunes, which record a history of ancient trade winds and late-Pleistocene sea level changes. Lessons deal with models of Earth’s atmospheric cycles of heating and cooling and ways to evaluate human influence on global climate change.

Departure (Sunday, Lihue, Hawaii)
Transport to airport.

7 DAY PROGRAM (including travel)
6 NIGHTS LODGING (Waikomo Streams Villas)

Seminar Fee: $ 1,250

Sharing a room: $ 750
Additional person: $ 550
Single room $ 1,300

Extensive course notebook provided.
All lunches included (most evening meals on your own).
Transportation to and from Kauai not included

Continuing Education Credits available from University of Hawaii:
CEUs (3 credits): $40