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Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Introduces Archeology at Kea‘au Middle School Career Day

May 30, 2014
Artifact Analyzing Station

Ranger Kalena Blakemore shares an adze with students at the Artifact Analyzing Station. NPS Photo.

This blog post was written by Park Ranger and Archeologist Kalena Blakemore. 

On May 9, 2014, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park archeologists from Cultural Resources Management once again had the privilege of presenting field archeology activities to sixth-to-eighth grade students at Kea‘au Middle School, on Hawai‘i Island.  This year, students  joined park rangers Summer Roper and Kalena Blakemore outside for a simulated one-on-one, hands-on experience of what park archeologists do in the field.

Two learning stations were established so students could analyze a site and artifacts through observations, measurements. and sketch drawings.  A canvas painted with a stone c-shape/temporary habitation site was presented to the young and budding archeologists in order to practice their skills with photography, mapping, and the use of a hand-held Global Positioning System digital reader.  The painted canvas represented an actual c-shape structure in Kealakomowaena, an ancient agricultural community situated at the base of Hōlei Pali in the park. Each learning station was supplied with charcoal, a ko‘i (adze), ulu maika (a game stone), poi pounder, sling stone, kapa beater, glass bottles, pottery fragments or sherds, animal bone, and a horseshoe. The students were fascinated with the variety of artifacts they could hold, weigh, draw, and measure. When one group of students was called on for their interpretation of what the c-shape feature may have been used for, or the duration of time it was used, a seventh grader responded, “This is a multi-generational site!” She made that statement based on observing pre-historic, historic, and modern artifacts all located within the site.

Once back in the classroom, students probed the rangers with questions about education requirements, pay scale, and what the most interesting, as well as the least favorite, aspect of an archeologist’s job was. The most unusual question the rangers were asked was, “Do you ever find unnatural things…like… Big Foot hair?” Ranger Summer’s response, with a thoughtful straight face was, “No…just Pele’s hair.”

Canvas of temporary habitation site

Painted canvas with C-shape/temporary habitation site and artifacts ready for mapping. NPS Photo.

Analyze this!

Ranger Summer Roper assists students with their analysis and recording observations. NPS Photo.

Using the compass and north arrow

Ranger Kalena shows students how to use the compass and north arrow.

Interpreting the facts

Kea‘au Middle School students interpret the facts. NPS Photo.



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