Science Activities

Volcanoes and Hawai‘i

Explore Hawaiʻi’s special relationship with volcanoes and learn what makes our volcanic relationship so unique compared to the rest of the world.

Volcanoes in Hawai‘i

Take an in-depth look at the creation of the Hawaiian Island chain, with a special focus on volcanoes and lava!

The Hawaiian Hot Spot

Learn about what a hot spot is, how it forms, and its important role in the creation of a volcano.

The Hawaiian Hot Spot and the Pacific Plate

A relationship that has lasted more than 30 million years. Learn about how the Hawaiian Hot Spot and the Pacific Plate have worked together to create the Hawaiian Island chain.

Explosive Truth

The Explosive Truth!

A homemade volcano experiment that highlights the main differences between shield and composite volcanoes!


Edible Islands

Can you make a model that demonstrates the formation of the Hawaiian Islands and eat it too?

Fish of Hawai‘i


Butterfly Fish

There are many species of fish that live in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. Some are native, some are non-native, and some are endemic, which means they are found nowhere else in the world! In the following Blog post and activities, you will learn more about a very special fish that was discovered by a scientist at the Bishop Museum, along with an experiment on why fish do not float or sink! 

Discovery of a New Species

Learn about the discovery of a new species of butterflyfish in this video with Dr. Richard Pyle of the Bishop Museum!

Butterfly Fish in the Science Adventure Center

Check out this short clip of one of the butterflyfish that Dr. Pyle discovered that you can actually see live in our Science Adventure Center. 

Butterfly Coloring Book

Prognathodes basabei Coloring Page

A fun coloring sheet that highlights the new species of fish that you can see on display in our Science Adventure Center!

Fish Activity

Just Keep Swimming

Ever wonder why fish don’t just sink to the bottom of the ocean or float at the surface? Learn about the swim bladder and how it works in fish with this fun and interactive activity!

Plants of Hawai‘i


Credit: Paul Krushelnycky, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Public domain.

Haleakalā Silversword

The silversword is a distinctive, globe-shaped rosette plant with rigid (swordlike), succulent leaves densely covered by silver hairs. When a plant flowers at the end of its life, it produces a spectacular flowering stalk that can reach up to six feet tall. This plant receives more attention from visitors to Haleakalā National Park than any other plant or animal because of its striking appearance and restricted distribution. 
The Haleakalā silversword was near extinction in the 1920s because of human vandalism and browsing by goats and cattle. The plant has increased under protection and deserves attention as the most dramatic conservation success story of the Hawaiian Islands. It is the most famous member of the endemic Hawaiian silversword alliance, perhaps the premier example of evolutionary adaptive radiation in plants.
Loope, L. L. (2007). Haleakalā Silversword. Retrieved on April 25, 2020 from 
Silversword Coloring Sheet

Silversword Coloring Sheet

After learning a little bit about the silversword above, color one in using this coloring page!

Plant Bingo

Plant Bingo

A fun  activity for families to enjoy on walks around the neighborhood or rides around the island. Learn what different plants look like and whether they are native or non-native! 

Plant Morphology

A Part for Plants

Turn a trip to the garden into a close-up look at Earth’s oxygen-makers: plants and their leaves! Teach or review plant parts and needs, then further explore the part leaves play in photosynthesis and Earth’s carbon cycle. 

Pōhaku: Rocks, Stones, & Geology

There are many different rocks in the world. And each type behaves differently under different conditions. Pressure, heat, and erosion are just a few of the conditions that can be applied to rocks, and they can become different types of rocks according to the Rock Cycle. Check out the PODCAST and Rock Cycle Game to learn more about the process of the rock cycle and the different types of rocks it produces before creating your very own edible rock cycle! 

Edible Rock Cycle

Edible Rock Cycle Activity

After learning about the rock cycle, check out this fun activity using Starburst candies to create your own edible rock cycle!


Rock Cycle Activity

Use PowerPoint to follow the path a rock takes to change type.

Celestial Islands

Rock Cycle Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will explore theories of island formation based upon evidence in the geosphere. They will investigate Hawaiian igneous rock by participating in hands-on activities with rock samples and using models to demonstrate the rock cycle.

Rock Cycle Podcast

Play the podcast and reference the images below while listening.

Earth Week

Celebrate earth week with these science-based activities.


Mapping your World Activity

Observe the diverse terrestrial landscape of our planet in this data collection activity! Take your keen eyes to the outdoors to map your world like a scientist or satellite. Extended activities and resources included. 

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Making a Pressed Plant Activity

Make some eco-friendly art at home with your keiki with this pressed plant instruction kit! 

Ocean Plastics Video

Watch and learn about garbage patches of the ocean and how you can make a difference today!


Discover the science of birds in Hawai’i and their impact on the environment around them.

Honeycreepers & Adaptive Radiation Blog Post

Hawaiʻi is home to over 10,000 examples of species changing and adapting to overcome environmental challenges. The Hawaiian Islands grow from a hotspot and then recede as they move further away from it. This movement creates changes to the environment, which in turn has created changes in species like Hawaiian Honeycreepers. The first flock arrived maybe around 8 million years ago *Wylie, R. (2015, June 25), and as the Honeycreepers expanded to other islands and sometimes returned to former habitats, changes occurred due to environmental adaptive measures.

Voyaging in the Pacific

Experience the science of Hawai‘i in your own backyard using these family fun activities and resources!

Wind & Land Adventure Game

Observe different ways that land affects the wind and match it to the correct wind type. Learn about different types of wind and try to take advantage of the different winds surrounding your waʻa (canoe) to get to your final destination faster! Download the powerpoint file to start your journey at home!

Family Voyage

This ‘ohana scavenger hunt can be done inside or outside, the fun cannot be contained! One family member will be tasked with creating the scavenger hunt and writing down directions. It can be complicated or simple, depending on how much time you have and the age range of your group.

Be a Part of Our Story

Celebrate the extraordinary history, culture, and environment of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific with a gift to Bishop Museum. As a partner in the Museum’s work, you can help to sustain vital collections, research, and knowledge, and inspire exploration and discovery with a tax-deductible donation.