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Hawai'i Tsunami Education Curriculum (HITEC)
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Tsunami education is vitally important to increase the resilience of coastal communities in the event of a destructive tsunami. Recognizing the signs of a tsunami and knowing what to do when tsunami waves strike can save lives. If your school is located in an inundation zone, it is important that students understand protocol when the next tsunami arrives.

The Hawai'i Tsunami Education Curriculum (HITEC) Program is a project of the Pacific Tsunami Museum (PTM), developed during the years 2010-2013. The mission is to save lives and improve native Hawaiian students' academic and technology skills using themes including exploring tsunami science, climate change, and disaster preparedness.

Marlene Murray, Program Manager, has coordinated all of the program logistics with our two subcontractors, the Geophysical Institute (GI) at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF) and the Pacific American Foundation (PAF). PAF has developed the tsunami education curriculum for Hawai'i schools. Teachers can access curriculum that is aligned with state and national standards and even enroll in an on-line credit course with UAF.

The HITEC tsunami units provide opportunities for high levels of student engagement, and the topics are well-suited for integrating standards across a range of subject areas. The units often culminate in student-designed activities that offer valuable practice in synthesizing information and collaborating with others. Survivor stories are an integral part of the curriculum.

The program includes:

  • hands-on curriculum of project-based lessons on tsunamis and climate change for students in grades 4, 6, 8 and 9 with multimedia activities and visualizations
  • an online course for teachers focused on the science of tsunamis
  • tsunami survivor stories, archival photographs, and tsunami legends
  • informal consultation to help schools enhance their existing tsunami evacuation preparedness plans and procedures
  • a visually rich PTM booklet
Teachers from 20 schools statewide contributed to the curriculum development process through their scoping and field testing of units (see pictures below). Through education we can be tsunami safe!
Teacher working group session
HITEC presentation
  Teachers participate in HITEC
working group sessions.
    Presentations familiarize teachers
with the HITEC program.

Planning a Field Trip?
Director Donna Saiki speaking to class field trip.jpg

We welcome class/group visits to the museum and tailor the visit to meet the outcomes expressed by the teacher or coordinator. We have accommodated school groups that range from fourth grade to university level and others such as Elderhostel, class reunions and family reunions.

We provide presentations for school groups grade level 4 and up (minimum group size is 15). One hour is the suggested visit time. Visits include an initial 30-45 minute group presentation that covers the science of tsunamis, historical information about Hilo, and personal accounts of survivors. Students then have approximately 15 minutes to browse.

We do not recommend large group presentations for students in grades 3 and below. The content of the museum exhibits is such that younger children need to be accompanied by adults coming in with them who can explain and guide them through the tsunami experience at the museum.


We welcome school groups!

Scheduled Kama‛aina school groups: Students: $2.00; Kama‛ainas: $6.00

Scheduled out-of-state school groups: Students: $5.00 (elementary - high school); General: $7.00

UHH/HCC scheduled groups $3.00

Kama‛aina college students $7.00

Non-resident college students $8.00

For every 10 students in a scheduled group visit, one adult may come in free.
Adults accompanying the group in excess of that number pay General, Kama‛aina, or Senior admission.

For groups grades 4 and up we provide a 1 hour session that includes a 30-45 minute presentation followed by time to browse the museum.

For more info. call 808-935-0926.

The Pacific Tsunami museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  We are closed on Sunday, and on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. We require a minimum of 15 students for a presentation, and the maximum number of students in a group is 45.  For larger groups you may coordinate the museum visit with another activity such as the NOAA Discovery Center - Mokupapapa, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, the Lyman House Memorial Museum or the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Advance arrangements must be made by calling Colleen at 808-935-0926.  You may also fax in a request to 808-935-0842 or e-mail to  Payment can be made by purchase order or by check, cash, or credit card (VISA and Mastercard) on the day of the visit.


Tsunami Observer Program
In June 2006, the Pacific Tsunami Museum was awarded a contract to manage the Tsunami Observer Program until 2010. As of June 2010, the program has been contracted to Jacqueline Miller on Oahu, but it remains the same. Funded by NOAA and sponsored by Hawaii State Civil Defense, this program was set up to record all important data associated with a tsunami event including footage of the wave inundating the coastline and wave runup heights in a post tsunami field survey.

The program consists of: 44 volunteer Tsunami Observers, spread across Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Oahu and Hawaii, two Technical Directors - George Curtis and Daniel Walker, and a Program Manager, Jacqueline Miller. When a tsunami WATCH is issued all Tsunami Observers will be alerted by phone tree system, they will then set up recording equipment at safe locations to monitor the waves as they come ashore. Following a large tsunami event, Tsunami Observers will be deployed into the field to carry out a comprehensive post-tsunami field survey which will record an array of data including runups, building damages as well as information from eyewitnesses.

The Tsunami Observers had their first real taste as a Tsunami Observer when they received calls on the evening of January 12th, 2007 following the 8.3 Mw earthquake in the Kuril Islands. The Tsunami Observers all performed extremely well and we are thrilled to be working with such wonderful volunteers on this project.

Outreach programs included working with the downtown Hilo businesses to help them become better prepared for the next tsunami and creating and preparing exhibits for the openings of tsunami museums in Thailand and India.

Hawaiian Paradise Park - Emergency Notification Evacuation Team
The Hawaiian Paradise Park - Emergency Notification Evacuation Team is a volunteer non-profit group, organized to help ensure the safety and welfare of the residents of Hawaiian Paradise Park on the Big Island of Hawaii during times of disaster or crisis. It was formed in February of 2005 to assist in educating residents in planning, preparedness and response to disasters, including tsunamis. flooded neighborhood
Manny Mattos Manny Mattos, founder of the HPP-ENET, is a retired Honolulu police officer. Born and raised on Oahu he remembers the 1957, 1960 and 1964 tsunamis. He has seen the need for tsunami education in the schools and has created a presentation with handouts from NOAA. Manny has been visiting schools around the Big Island of Hawaii promoting tsunami awareness.

NOAA Recognizes the Big Island as
Hawaii County is the last county to become TsunamiReady, which will make Hawaii the first TsunamiReady State. Through the TsunamiReady program, NOAA's National Weather Service gives communities the skills and education needed to survive a tsunami before, during and after the event. TsunamiReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local tsunami operations.

On July 29, 2005 the Museum hosted NOAA officials along with Service Directors and Emergency Management Directors from Indian Ocean countries to honor this event. The NOAA program will aid these Indian Ocean delegates in establishing guidelines for emergency preparedness in their communities. The official TsunamiReady ceremony was held in August 2005.

Volunteer as a docent at the Pacific Tsunami Museum
Want an opportunity
to meet interesting people from all over the world?
Visitors coming to the Pacific Tsunami Museum are independent, well-educated travelers who are finding in East Hawaii an environment rich in natural beauty and wonderful people. The museum is an attraction that is interesting from not only a scientific perspective but from a cultural and historic view as well. Volunteer docents in the museum greet each visitor and give them a brief background in tsunamis and how Hawaii has been affected by them. As they relate the stories of Hilo and Laupahoehoe, the visitors get an insight into how the fabric of our communities have been shaped by these waves.

We are now in the process of recruiting docents and are looking for persons who like people and are willing to visit and converse with them. We ask for three-four hours per week in shifts from 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m on Mondays through Saturdays.

The museum provides not only an enriching experience for tourists, but for local residents as well. Approximately 35% of our visitors are residents of Hawaii and many come to reconnect with their family and community history here in Hilo and Laupahoehoe. Many docents have been surprised with meeting old friends and family right here in the museum. If you are interested in being a docent, please call 935-0926.




Introducing the Pacific Tsunami Museum's
East Hawai'i Walking/Driving Tour of Historical Tsunami Sites
by Genevieve Cain
The Pacific Tsunami Museum in down-town Hilo, has extended its walls into the community, and is pleased to announce the first self-guided walking and driving tours of historical tsunami sites in the world. The tour takes place within our East Hawai'i tsunami corridor, which stretches from the Northern end of the Hamakua Coast down to the popular strip of beaches in Keaukaha and is open to all visitors, residents and children.

Through an eclectic mixture of descriptive stories, survivor quotes and historic photographs, visitors and residents will have the opportunity to take a virtual trip back in time to the fateful morning of April 1st, 1946, and the deadly night of May 22nd, 1960. Companioned with a descriptive brochure and a greeting at tsunami sites by an educational sign, participants will experience with their own eyes the true legacy of a tsunami.

Brochures are free and available at numerous locations such as the Laupahoehoe Train Museum, the Pacific Tsunami Museum, the Wailoa Center and the Port of Hilo. It contains information and directions which will make the tour more comfortable as well as improve educational experience. The tour is also geared towards educating children and aims to provide an interactive family experience. Family activity books accompany the guidebook in the summer season as well as the permanent activity corner on the educational sign.
Presenting the new Interactive Historic Hilo Tsunami Walk!
map hilo Wailoa Cafe 100 Coconut Island Pier 2 clock

All materials © Copyright 1996-2010 Pacific Tsunami Museum Inc.
130 Kamehameha Ave Hilo, HI 96720 tel: 808-935-0926 FAX: 808-935-0842 email:
Last Revised November 2010