Unit 4: Social Studies Connection

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America's Hot Spot

Many tourists visit Hawaii to stroll on its long beaches. Others go to ride its wild waves on surfboards. Now thousands of people are going to see a glowing river of fire.

The river is molten lava, or melted rock, that is flowing from a giant volcano. The volcano is named Kilauea (kill-oh-WAY-uh). Kilauea is a Hawaiian word. It means “spewing.”

The lava has a temperature of nearly 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hotter than a candle flame.

The volcano has been erupting lava for about 20 years. For most of that time, the lava followed a path that was fairly far away from areas where people lived. In order to see the lava, people had to walk about 4 miles. Recently, however, the lava changed direction. It now flows much closer to where people live.

A Mountain of Steam

On some days, more than 4,000 people go to the national park where the volcano is located. They watch the river of fire wind its way from the volcano toward the Pacific Ocean. The super hot lava sizzles and explodes as it pours into the ocean, creating a huge cloud of steam.

Going near the lava flow can be dangerous. “Since they've been infants, kids are told, 'hot [is] bad!' And here mom and dad are dragging them onto a bubbling lava field,” said park ranger Mardie Lane.

The intense heat from the lava and steam can injure people. The lava is so hot that it can melt shoes. Some of the gases in the steam are poisonous. One gas is made of sulfuric acid. It can burn people's lungs.

Living With Pele

Long ago, the ancient Hawaiians believed that the goddess Pele lived in Kilauea. They believed that when Pele was angry, she made the volcano erupt. According to myth, sometimes she was so angry that an eruption would destroy their villages.

Word Wise

A person who travels for pleasure: Many tourists visited the Eiffel Tower last summer.

To force out or eject: When Tina stepped on the tube of toothpaste, the toothpaste spewed out onto the floor.

To explode or release something violently: After Dan shook the soda can, the soda erupted from the can when he opened it.

Of a time just before the present: I recently learned to skate.

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Make a word web. Write the word “HOT” in the center circle. Use words from the article that are related to the word “hot”. Think of some other words that are related and write them in the remaining circles. You may use a thesaurus to complete your word web.

Data Hunt


Imagine that you are a television reporter at a Hawaiian news station. Work with a group to put together a nightly news report. The report should include:

  • The local weather report
  • The local sports report
  • The local news, including news about Kilauea

Present your news report to the class.