Makahiki Games Reimagined

Ninth graders embarked on an engaging project through their interdisciplinary class, Academy GSD: Product Design for Sustainable Development. The class, a collaborative effort led by faculty members Erik Swanson (Social Studies), Mark Mitsuda (Art), and Dillon Yamada Hall (DTE), draws inspiration from traditional Hawaiian design and product creation. In one project, students were challenged to redesign Makahiki games, a key part of the third grade lū‘au tradition, to enhance students’ understanding of traditional Hawaiian society.

Students employed the design thinking process to bring their visions to life. They began with in-depth research and playing Makahiki games, supported by Punahou’s Kuaihelani Learning Center. This initial phase of empathy and understanding laid the groundwork for subsequent stages, where students, in design teams, ideated and prototyped new indoor versions of these games. In the Ken Richardson Learning Lab, they utilized rapid prototyping technologies such as CAD software, state-of-the-art wood laser cutters and other machinery to fabricate the games.

For the test phase, Denise Wong’s third grade class was invited to play these newly designed games, providing real-world feedback to the ninth graders. The feedback allowed the older students to refine their games into engaging and educational experiences.

Photos by Kathleen Connelly

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