As Hōkūleʻa reached new milestones by sailing her first freshwater passage through Lake Okeechobee, the Polynesian Voyaging Society crewmembers focused on educational outreach by driving several hundred miles south to Miami to connect with community members that had been planning for Hōkūleʻa’s arrival to Florida. The crew engaged with leadership from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and learned about the garden’s education programs that partner with over 280 schools nationally and globally on challenges that are focused on developing the next generation of environmentally-minded citizens. The initiative, called the Fairchild Challenge started in 2002 as an inquiry-based program that gave students the opportunity to work on science projects with real world application for their communities. The crew was excited to learn about this year’s challenge: for students to imagine themselves as Polynesian Voyagers tasked to plan which canoe plants they should bring on a voyage to a distant land. Hōkūleʻa crew members had a chance to visit with and give presentations to three of the Fairchild Challenge schools, including Florida’s BioTECH High School and Jose Marti MAST Academy.
The crew also engaged in discussions with students about how their research and data collection will impact future space missions, as Fairchild has taken the Fairchild Challenge to another level by partnering with NASA and the scientists who are researching plants that will sustain human lives on the International Space Station as well as their upcoming Mars missions. In just one week, Hōkūleʻa will be honoring Hawaii’s great astronauts Elison Onizuka and Lacy Veach at the Kennedy Space Center.
Even while they are 5,000 miles away from home, Hōkūleʻa and her crew are learning about an up-and-coming generation of navigators that carry the same spirit of exploration and innovation as Polynesian voyagers did thousands of years ago.
More than Adventure
Beyond a daring expedition, the Worldwide Voyage is quite possibly the most important mission that Hawaiʻi has ever attempted. As people of Oceania, we are leading a campaign that gives voice to our ocean and planet by highlighting innovative solutions practiced by cultures around the planet.
We could not have begun this great journey without your support, nor can we continue to its completion.
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