Teaching Change
Observation tower at puʻumakaʻala in the canopy of Koa
Participants observe and collect data on the ground in puʻumakaʻala
Top view close up of a hawaiian fern

The Puʻu Makaʻala Field Course is a year-long program launching in Fall 2020 with Advanced Placement Biology & Environmental Science high school seniors/juniors at Hilo High School. During this program, students learn about Puʻu Makaʻala ecology, natural history, and cultural geography. At Puʻu Makaʻala, students are exposed to the methods of data collection and the infrastructure of large-scale ecosystem monitoring. Students are tasked with developing their questions further and collecting in situ data in order to develop their own science questions that will guide research activities for a final project and presentation. Students engage in the Hawaiian practice of kilo (‘careful observation’) to collect phenological data. Participants receive mentorship on how to use NEON data for addressing their own science questions, including how to statistically analyze ecological data. At the end of the academic school year, students present their research to the class.

Course Details

Grade Level
Student Capacity
Up to 15
5 Classroom Days, 2 8-Hour Trips Per Year
BYO Brown Bag Lunch
4x4 | Provided


Puʻu Makaʻala Natural Area Reserve

Located in Keauhou, Puʻu Makaʻala is one of eight Natural Area Reserves (NARS) on Hawaiʻi Island. Natural Area Reserves are designated and managed to protect unique natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. Puʻu Makaʻala was established in 1981 to preserve and protect Hawaiʻi Island’s water resources, undeveloped spaces, and culturally significant areas, as well as a safe haven to rare native plants and animals.

Teaching Change at Puʻu Makaʻala in east Hawaii near Volcanoes National Park

Want to learn more?

Get In Touch