Hawaiian Star Compass

Grade 5

Developed by D.J. High

  • Overview
  • To share how ancient Hawaiians were able to navigate from one island to the next with extreme accuracy, dependent upon their natural and celestial surroundings. Students will utilize their prior knowledge of cardinal directions (N, S, E, and W) and angles to build a full size Hawaiian Star Compass.

  • Learning Objectives
    • To share how ancient Hawaiians were able to navigate from one island to the next with extreme accuracy, dependent upon their natural and celestial surroundings.
    • Students will utilize their prior knowledge of cardinal directions (N, S, E, and W) and angles to build a full size Hawaiian Star Compass.

    CCSS 5.NF.6 – Solve real world problems involving multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers.

    HCPS-III SC.5.2.1 – Use models and/or simulations to represent and investigate features of objects, events, and processes in the real world.

    HCPS-III SC.5.8.1 – Describe the relationship of Earth (size and distance) to other components in the solar system

  • Lesson
    1. Students will oli in guests and provide lei (or other gifts) as a symbol of welcoming and aloha. Introduce guests and provide a brief background as to who they are and why they have joined us today.
    2. Begin by asking class where Hōkūleʻa is/was last time they checked in with the canoes and ask where they are headed next. Lead a discussion about how the crew knows how/where they are headed without the use of modern instruments such as a compass or GPS
    3. Review the four cardinal directions(English and Hawaiian) and the degrees of measurement between each (90). Discuss where each cardinal direction may lie in our ahupua’a based on their own observations of natural elements (sun, winds, etc.). Allow time for student discussion before whole group answers.
    4. Announce to students that we will be going outside to create a life size star compass on the field. If splitting the class, break students into two groups before leaving the classroom. Go over expectations of behavior and participation amongst the groups. Transition outside.
    5. Provide 5-10 minutes for natural material collection. Each student should have one item (two per student if breaking into two groups) to contribute to the physical compass. These items should be natural, not able to blow away, and can easily be returned to their original setting after the lesson.
    6. Bring students together in their groups, and have them orient themselves based on their knowledge of natural elements. Have students use whiteboards to depict their four cardinal directions. Delegate students to use a protractor and string to mark out exactly 90⁰ between each of the cardinal directions. Have students justify their positions to each other and explain why they believe each direction goes where they have positioned it, if students disagree allow/facilitate group discussion. Use a compass or iPhone compass app to check the accuracy of cardinal directions. Make adjustments to cardinal directions as needed.
    7. Explain to students that each quadrant of the star compass has seven “houses” where the stars rise and set. Provide examples of the stars and depict how they move across the night sky, but never cross hemispheres. Teach students the Star House Dance and have them repeat to learn the names of the houses.
    8. Once students are maʻa with the star dance and order of the houses, have seven students equally space themselves out in each quadrant and use natural materials to mark each house division. Repeat for all four quadrants. Review Star House Dance.
    9. Re-depict how stars move from one house to another and describe the movement of winds, currents, waves, and animal movements/migrations. Have student volunteers “act” out the movements of different forces of nature.
    10. If time allows, provide students a geographic location to set their course as if they were sailing to a new destination. Practice uses of star houses and quadrants to set course direction.

  • Assessment
    • Students will be assessed on their ability to correctly build a Hawaiian Star Compass based off of its alignment through natural forces.
    • Students will also need to correctly label cardinal directions on their compass and use a protractor to mark out 90⁰ angles between each direction.
    • The students’ ability to work cohesively will come into play as their GLO of community contributor

  • Materials
    1. SMARTboard/Whiteboard
    2. Protractor
    3. String
    4. Natural materials to use as markers (rocks, sticks, etc.)
    5. Compass
    6. iPhone compass app
    7. Individual whiteboards (4 or 8)
    8. Whiteboard markers (4 or 8)
    9. Oli/Kahea