The Science and Culture of Art - Maui the Kitemaker

Lesson 1 - Activities

Maui the Kite Maker Story and Discussion.

The Science of Paradise  includes basics of the sun, its relation to the earth’s daily rotation and annual revolution. This will be followed by a basic understanding of how this affects Hawaii seasons and the length of days, a brief overview of trade winds, with links to Maui’s stories.


Activity 1:

Maui the Kite Maker and Discussion (30 mins)



Maui the Kite Maker Story By T. Cummings (Resource CD); also included in print in this Learning Center (see the next page).



Read to students the Maui the Kite Maker Story by Tom Cummings.


Prior to reading, give thought to the following. Express these points of view during discussion with students.


Scientific Point of View

I. In the story, the scientific inquiry process is expressed, which includes:

Step 1: Creation of a HYPOTHESIS. How was that told in the story?

Step 2: Testing the HYPOTHESIS: How was that told in the story?

Step 3: Collecting/Recording/Modifying the HYPOTHESIS. How was that expressed?

Step 4: Reporting the validity of the HYPOTHESIS: How was that expressed?


II. In Maui’s quest to prove his HYPOTHESIS, tell specifically whether or not his process went smoothly (a) with the people he associated with, (b) and with the forces of nature.


III. The experiences Maui has to prove his HYPOTHESIS are generally the same as that of any scientist today.

Cite in specific details how you personally experienced what Maui experienced.

Cite in specific details how a scientist in history actually experienced what Maui experienced.


Literary Point of View

I. Maui has an “attitude” in the beginning of the story. What is it?


II. In what way does that initial “attitude” eventually change as the story unfolds?


III. When you read the last sentence of the story, did Maui’s “attitude” completely change?


IV. Conflict is an expected feature in any story. How is conflict expressed in the story? Name the three conflicts that are present.


V. Making comparisons to real life situations is an expected outcome of reading a story. Name one person you know who fits Maui’s attitude. How about you?


VI.  Other literary elements in the story:

Setting: Tell where the story is happening, in general.

Time: Tell when the story occurs, in general.

Hero: Who is the hero in this story, in your opinion?

Villain: Who is the villain in this story, in your opinion?


Activity 2:

The Science of Paradise (30 mins)


Place a sphere or lamp in the middle of the room to represent the sun. Students will understand the relationship between the sun and the earth’s daily rotation and annual revolution. Earth balls will be used to show seasonal rotation.

Students will understand that the earth’s axis is tilted.

Students will understand that the seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis relative to the sun, and that Hawaii’s unique seasons and climate are attributed to this.



Lamp or light source to represent the sun

3” diameter styrofoam balls

8” long sticks (chopsticks work fine)

1 marker (any color) – mark the equator and tropic zones

Globe of the world

Season, month, and Hokupa’a/North Star cards (Resource CD)

Small and large gourd (representing small and strong winds)



Place a lamp in the middle of a darkened room to represent the sun. Choose one side of the room and place the North Star/Hokupa’a card high on the wall.


Note N for north pole on the top of styrofoam ball and S for south pole on the bottom. You may also draw the equator around the middle of the ball horizontally. The earth is tilted approximately 23 degrees off true.

Prior to activity push sticks (chopsticks) through styrofoam ball to represent earth’s axis at 23-degree angle.


Alternatively, this activity can also be done without the styrofoam balls where students can be the earth instead. Explain that their head will be the north pole, their feet the south pole, their waist the equator and their belly button is Hawaii.



The Earth's Relationship to the Sun:

Ask students which rotates around which, the sun around the earth, or the earth around the sun. Why? The sun is the center of our solar system with each planet rotating around the sun. How many months there are in a year? Have students walk around the sun (lamp) the same as the earth moves around the sun for one complete year. Say the months of the year as you go around the lamp. But what else does the earth do as it goes around the sun? It spins on its axis, taking 24 hours to make a complete spin. One full spin of the earth is one day. Have students spin in one spot, facing the lamp for daytime, away for night time.


The North Star/Hokupa’a:


Next, have students stand in a wide circle around the lamp. Students should be as close to the perimeter as possible, since this will reduce the opportunity for them to roughhouse. Ask students to hold their earth ball in front of their chest, with the North Pole pointing straight up. Explain that the earth has a north and south pole, but that the axis is NOT straight up and down, but in fact tilted towards the North Star/Polaris (Hawaiian name Hokupa’a). Ask students to tilt their earth balls towards Hokupa’a or their head (put a picture of a star on far wall). If students are using their bodies, have them point their heads (the north pole) towards Hokupa’a. Check to see that all the balls are tilted towards Hokupa’a. Assist students if necessary.




Ask one student who is farthest away from Hokupa’a (i.e. the sun is in between them and Hokupa’a) whether his/her north pole is tilted towards or away from the sun (towards the sun). Ask another student who is closest to Hokupa’a whether his/her north pole is tilted towards or away from the sun (away). Ask the class to make a guess as to which student represents the earth in the summer and which student represents the earth in the winter. Put “winter” and “summer” signs over the appropriate students.


Ask students which season comes between winter and summer (spring). Have class guess which student is in the spring position. Put the “spring” sign on the appropriate student. Have class guess which student is in the autumn position and put “autumn” sign on the appropriate student. Ask the spring and autumn students whether their axis is tilted towards or away from the sun. Have students notice that in both spring and autumn, the earth’s axis is tilted neither towards nor away from the sun.


Now have the students look at their bellybuttons (or where Hawaii would be on their styrofoam ball). How is Hawaii positioned with regard to the sun? Pretty much the same the whole year round, but slightly different in winter and summer. This is why Hawaii has such beautiful weather most of the year round.


Hawaii’s Seasons and Months:


As in most tropical climates, there are two seasons in Hawai'i, the cooler wetter season called Ho'oilo, and the hotter, drier season called Kau. Both seasons last about six months. Place the season card for KAU and HO’OLIO in the appropriate location around the circle. Ask students what kind of weather they see in Kau and Ho’olio where they live.


The Science of Paradise (Trades vs. Kona Winds):


But why isn’t Hawaii as hot as elsewhere on the equator? This is because of the tradewinds. Explain what wind is. Using a globe of the world demonstrate that tradewinds come from Alaska bringing cool air and wind across Hawaii. During the period May through September (KAU) the trades are very strong, blowing away much of the hot air from the equator and making the temperature much nicer. HOWEVER from October through April (HOO-ILO), Hawaii is located different (to the north of the heart of the trade winds). This allows warmer winds to come from the equator/south. These winds are called Kona winds. In addition as there are less trade winds to interrupt them, Hawaii is more prone to hurricanes and storms from the south.

Which of the two wind gourds do you think may represent hurricanes and storms that come up from the south to Hawaii during winter? The ipu iki (small wind gourd) or the ipu nui (large wind gourd)?


Hawaiian Months and Practices:


As we demonstrated earlier, Hawaiians also have 12 months in one year. Walk around circle again, this time saying both  Hawaiian and western months (use name cards with associated practices and place in appropriate location for month). Discuss why Hawaiians chose to do certain practices in certain months i.e. plant kalo on these months (what was the weather like?).



Read to students How Maui Slowed the Sun by Suelyn Ching Tune (Author), Robin Yoko Burningham (Illustrator)


Ask the questions:


Why did Maui want to slow down the sun?


After Maui slowed down the sun, which season had longer days? (Summer)

Which season had shorter days? (Winter)


How does the length of day affect how plants grow? Why do we and animals rely on plants? Why is important that we have seasons for plants?


Using the same concept as the Science of Paradise activity, have students revise the rotation of the earth around the sun with the seasons.


Ask the question: "Look at the amount of sun on the Northern Hemisphere during summer; in the winter. Why it is that we have shorter days in winter and longer days in summer?" Reiterate that because of Hawaii’s latitude (position on earth), although Hawaii also has longer days in summer and shorter days in winter, the difference in length between summer days and winter days is much smaller.