The Life Cycle of an Island: Hawaii
From the CTY Course Catalog (2006):
This course introduces principles of geology, ecology and evolutionary biology through the lens of the unique natural history of the Hawaiian Islands. The most isolated chain on Earth, the Hawaiian Islands are home to a number of rare ecosystems whose physical features, flora and fauna emerged and changed through the interaction of natural, and more recently human, processes.
Students begin by learning the present-day features of the Hawaiian Islands, examining its geological features, climatic regions, vegetation, insects, and animals. Next they consider how these features came to be. They learn about the geologic formation of the islands: how they were created through volcanic actions and were shaped by weather and erosion. Students learn theories for how organisms crossed thousands of miles of ocean to colonize the islands, and how they evolved into unique native species as they adapted to a new environment. They also consider the effects of the arrival of humans, first the Polynesians and later the Europeans. Students end with a consideration of the future of the Hawaiian Islands. Field trips to various locations on the island of Oahu are an important component of the course.