How Much is 1/32?: Using Math Skills to Talk About Preserving The History and Culture of Hawai’i



  • Explain what 1/32 means in human terms when it comes to determining one’s background.
  • Apply facts from Hawai’i’s history that bring the point home as to why a fraction like 1/32 is important.
  • Construct a meaningful definition of the word ”culture.”


This lesson uses language and historical events from Hawai’i to teach math skills.The math becomes important when legislation is passed that reserves land for Native Hawai’ians. However, over time the percentage of Native Hawai’ian blood that determines qualifying under various programs has changed or is subject to debate. By using actual legislative history and historical events, students can learn math while also learning about history, civics, and sociology.


  1. How does math help us to understand complex questions relating to social studies, civics, and sociology?
  2. Can terms like identity and culture be quantified in any meaningful way?