South Florida students make their own Hawaiian star compass
Boca Raton, Florida —
By Elizabeth Eubanks, Pope John Paul II High School. I am a science teacher from South Florida. This summer I attended an EARTH (Education and Research: Testing Hypothesis) workshop in Honolulu, HI, hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), C-MORE (Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education) and C-DEBI (Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigation). During the workshop, I had the pleasure of learning from Jenna Ishii who is a wonderful educator associated with the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
She taught us about Hōkūle‘a and also demonstrated how to create a Polynesian Star Compass. I was instantly enamored by her grounded style and incredible knowledge.
I acquired some video of her demonstration and had the pleasure of interviewing her.
This fall I put a video together and shared it with my Marine Science classes and with my 8th grade integrated science class. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i3eH7-iXAU
After watching the video, we made a Polynesian Star Compass with my 8th graders. We used “sea beans or drift seeds” that I found from our beaches here in Florida. Drift seeds travel the current and often come to our beaches from places like South America. They are a personal connection in our lives that connect us to those faraway places.
http://youtu.be/EEz1Ry_IotM created for this blog
It was a great lesson and here are a few things my students had to say about it:
The star compass is an age old method to navigate using the moon and the stars. Jenna taught me that the stars never cross the equator. When we made it in class, I learned that the stars are in line with each other. Nick L
The star compass is the traditional way of navigating. It is split up in 32 different sections called houses. The sun, moon and stars all rise and set in the same house. They [the stars] never cross the equator and they stay parallel to the equator. Only wind, birds, and canoes can cross the equator. They first set north, south, east and west. North is called Akau, south is called Hema, east is called Hikina, and west is called Komohana. The compass teaches kids and adults how to make a compass using your surroundings. It also helps if you are sailing.
I thought it was a cool way to make a compass out of your surroundings. That way you can’t get lost anywhere as long as you know where the sun rises and sets. My thoughts on making it was that it was fun and interesting to hear the different names and actually see how to create it. Katrina Y