Improving Classroom Instruction Through Teacher Training

NPF connected Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park with teachers who became certified in inquiry-based programs, which they taught elementary students.

During a three-year PARK Teachers Program, designed to connect pre-service teachers with national parks, the national park staff created an educational program integrating the cultural and scientific importance of water to the Hawaiian Islands. During the pre-field visit at the university, teachers examine examples of lava rocks, plants, and animals (stuffed) as an introduction to the natural history of Hawai'i. The essential question for the inquiry is: What allows life to thrive in Hawai'i?

During the field visit, teachers investigate the relationships between levels of humidity and the types of vegetation that exist at three separate study sites. A few days after the park visit, teachers engage in an analysis of their data and a discussion of the inquiry experience. Once, certified, the teachers can them implement their inquiry-based programs in the park with their elementary, middle and high school students.