This investigative case module was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled Selected Cases at Beloit College in June 1999. The cases, resources, and implementation strategies were developed by participants for use with their own students. We invite you to adopt and adapt the following materials.

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Investigative Cases
The Case: Malama Keone’o’io

Auntie Pua and Uncle Bully came over to Maui from O’ahu for the weekend to visit their family. After a morning of swimming and a picnic lunch on the sunny, white sands of Makena Beach, they drove south across the stark, black lava fields to Keone’o’io.

The road ended at a beautiful bay. People were fishing, children were playing in the water, a tent was set up, and some kayakers were paddling off shore.

They approached a local woman resting under a keawe tree. “Who owns this place?” they asked. “I don’t know that anyone does,” she replied. “But we hear talk that developers want to make it into a tourist place.”

Pua and Bully spent several hours exploring the rugged lava fields where they found ancient Hawaiian home sites, unusual ponds, and some plants they had never seen before.

When they got to their nephew, Kimo’s, house they told him about the special place they had visited and people they had met. “That place reminds me of what Hanauma Bay on O’ahu used to be like 40 years ago before it was overrun with people,” said Auntie. “What can you boys who work down at the Department of Land & Natural Resources do to help protect it?”

Kimo expressed his concern and said that the plants they were describing sounded like some rare and endangered endemic Hawaiian species. He went on to explain that there needed to be a survey of the natural resources of the area and a thorough environmental impact statement prepared if any development was planned.

When Kimo got to work on Monday, he told his boss, Bob, about the situation. Bob got right on the phone and arranged for a local environmental assessment company to investigate and begin the survey immediately. You work for that company and you have been assigned to manage this project.

Case Author:
Ann Coopersmith Maui Community College
Theodosia Wade Emory University:Oxford College

Case Analysis

What and how many rare and endangered plants are found in this area?

How should the survey be conducted?

How can be done to protected this area from further development?

Option: Include a know / need to know chart like the one below:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals


At the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Analyze a case study
  • Recognize common Hawaiian leeward coastal native and introduced plants
  • Use standard field sampling tools and techniques
  • Simulate and evaluate field sampling strategies
  • Design and carry out a field survey project
  • Prepare community conservation information materials



Investigations and Activities

Activity 1
Plant identification and keying at the Maui Community College and the Maui Botanical Garden: Students use dichotomous keys, native plant web sites and references to learn to identify the common leeward coastal plants.

Activity 2
Classroom simulation of sampling: Students use objects of different colors or shapes (such as animal cracker or seed) to simulate field sampling techniques and limitations. Methods include transects and quadrats. Data will be collected graphed, and evaluated. Short reports will be written.

Activity 3
Field sampling and mapping using transects, quadrats, and GPS/GIS equipment: Students will survey the plants at Keone’o’io and prepare an ArcView GIS map of the area.

Activity 4

BioQUEST EcoBeaker:
Random sampling simulation
and analysis



Activity 5
Conservation strategy group projects. In collaborative groups, students will discuss various methods for preservation of the natural habitat they have studied. Each group will present a community awareness method (such as pamphlet, poster, video, public service announcement, slide show for community meeting presentation, fair booth)



Students will usually obtain additional references or resources to help answer or explore their questions.

References & Resources

Field Identification Guides

Merlin, M.D. 1980. Hawaiian Coastal Plants

Wagner, W.L., D.R. Herbst, and S.H. Sohmer. 1999. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i

Whistler, W.A. 1994. Flowers of the Pacific Island Seashore

Web Sites

Native Hawaiian Plants

Native Hawaiian Plants on the Maui Community College Campus

BioQUEST, EcoBeaker

Laboratory & Field Methods

Hendry and Grime. 1993. Methods in comparative plant ecology

Coopersmith. 1999. Classroom simulation of random sampling

Students will usually obtain additional references or resources
to help answer or explore their questions.

Special Data Items

1. malama1.jpg
2. malama4.jpg
3. malama5.jpg
4. malama6.jpg
5. malama7.jpg
6. malama8.jpg
7. malama9.jpg


Student Products

  • Data and written analysis of lab activities and EcoBeaker random sampling simulation
  • Distribution data and map of plants in the Keone’o’io coastal region
  • Field observation notes
  • Group conservation strategy materials (such as pamphlet, poster, video, public service announcement, slide show, community meeting presentation, fair booth)

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

Peer evaluation of group participation 10%

Lab activity data analysis 20%

Ecobeaker analysis 20%

Field data collection, analysis & map 20%

Field observations 10%

Conservation project 20%



Course name:
Botany, Field Ecology
Likely sequence in syllabus:
Time during term:
Classroom, Field
Students in course:
Majors and Non-majors
Collaborative elements:
Group work
Additional notes:




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