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KS Kapālama science students replicated a real-life loʻi (irrigated taro patch) to scale, in the virtual world of Minecraft. The project, guided by biology teacher Nathan Javellana, was a collaboration between the students and professionals from KS’ Land Assets Division. Learn more about the virtual loʻi in the video below.

KSK science students create a virtual loʻi in Minecraft

Jul. 14, 2015

At the intersection of innovation and tradition, a collaboration was formed between Kamehameha Schools Kapālama science students and professionals from KS’ Land Assets Division (LAD) bringing a Punaluʻu loʻi to life in the virtual world of Minecraft.

High school biology teacher Nathan Javellana used MinecraftEdu – a twist on the popular Minecraft video game played by teens throughout the world – to teach students some of the biological and cultural aspects of a traditional Hawaiian loʻi.

The hands-on learning took place at KS’ Punaluʻu Ahupuaʻa Farms, a 220-acre agricultural park on Oʻahu’s windward coast. The project increased student levels of learning engagement and pushed the boundaries of class fun off the Richter scale!

“I hooked the students with the game, but I was able to convey the important information of Punalu‘u that included pictures, mo‘olelo, and real life data,” said Javellana. “The students also learned about the connection between their education and the significance of Kamehameha’s lands.”

Minecraft is  a “sandbox” game that gives players full control of the game’s world. Students used the educational version of Minecraft to replicate the real-life loʻi to scale, using professional mapping tools.  

The KS Land Information Management team provided time and expertise and supplied the 80 biology students with geographic information system (GIS) equipment and data.

The three-week learning experience included measuring the size and checking the pH level of each loʻi, mapping the site with the GIS, gathering photos and stories of the region, and inputting all of the data into the MinecraftEdu system.

The process provided students with a deeper understanding of science and a means to honor their culture.

“As we move to SP2020 this project shows the possibility of collaboration between the land management and education,” said Darrell Hamamura, senior manager of KS’ Endowment Information Services and Management department. 

“There are numerous opportunities in which our educators can use Kamehameha’s land information to aid in the education of our haumāna.”

Javellana and his students shared the final version of the virtual loʻi with KS’ Executive Leadership Team and presented on the project before local educators at KS’ 2015 Ed Tech Conference.

“Those who are innovative; those who are prepared for the future; those who can take information, use it, then produce something awesome out of it – that’s where the success of our students is going to be,” he said.



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