Precipitating Change with Alaskan and Hawaiian Schools

Supporting Earth science learning from both Indigenous knowledge and Western-style inquiry.
Top: “Alaskan Glacial Ice Flow” by Adam J Skowronski (CC BY-ND 2.0) / Bottom: “Maui: Hawea Point Scenery” by Larry Myhre (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Precipitating Change with Alaskan and Hawaiian Schools is a National Science Foundation-funded project with partners from Alaskan and Hawaiian Native communities, multiple universities, and the Concord Consortium. Together, we are exploring approaches to designing, testing, and refining multi-perspective, middle school science instruction about coasts and coastal change.

Coastal regions in Alaska and Hawai’i have always experienced change, but recently the speed and intensity of change has been increasing in response to human development and climate change. In Indigenous communities, where people have longstanding cultural connections with place and rely on subsistence practices of hunting, fishing, and gathering traditional foods from the land and ocean, changes to the coast are relevant to many students’ lives. Investigating coasts and coastal change can involve employing both Indigenous and Eurocentric science approaches, as well as diving into related areas, including history, culture, and community decision-making.


Exploring and valuing multiple ways of knowing

Indigenous children represent a significant portion of school populations in Alaska and Hawai’i, but Native students often experience science class as disconnected from their communities’ cultures and ways of knowing. Thus, instruction concerning coasts and coastal change in Alaska and Hawai’i calls for a multi-perspective approach.

As we work together to understand approaches to and implications of enacting multi-perspective instructional activities, we are actively grappling with some fundamental questions:

  • How can multiple perspectives be appropriately included in instruction in ways that equitably demonstrate respect and value, rather than some perspectives being represented in deep ways while others are represented in shallow ways?
  • What does “learning” look like when it authentically represents multiple perspectives?


View this video and more on the Concord Consortium YouTube Channel.


Project Funder
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-2101198. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Principal Investigator
Carolyn Staudt, Beth Covitt, Noelani Puniwai, Tom Moher