Students get an up close look at Puna lava flow

Students get an up close look at Puna lava flow

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lava viewing provided a field trip like no other for 300 students from Pahoa Elementary School.

Students displaced by the flow were among the first invited to tour and touch the lava.

They paid their respects to Pele by offering a chant and a gift, then they were invited to feel hardened lava that's cooled down.

The incoming Pahoa Complex Superintendent Chad Farias described their reaction like this. "Absolute ooh's and ah's. Especially the kids who got to touch it. They were told at one point they couldn't because of the sharp edges and dangers. But here they got to feel it."

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira added, "Getting to experience something that most people have never in their lifetime and being the first here it was just incredible to see the expressions, just the enthusiasm and excitement on their face."

Civil Defense made tours possible so the children could understand the magnitude of what's happened and why they were forced to move.

They were treated to a far different view of the breakouts than you can see in aerial video.

Students also did memorable science lessons involving lava.

They shuffled their feet to show they can walk faster than the flow. It's averaging 60 feet per hour.

The highlight was touching the hardened lava after a lesson from a cultural advisor.

1,000 students will explore the lava this week.

Oliveira told reporters today that the hope is to open up tours to the general public soon.

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