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Culture, science blend at Hawaii Volcanoes park fest on Big Island

Science and a celebration both emphasize biodiversity May 15 and 16 on Hawaii's Big Island.

A cultural festival and a serious scientific study will blend in May at the Big Island's Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The park will join forces with National Geographic for a two-day adventure that will connect the dots between the park's flora and fauna and the traditions of Hawaii's native population.

The park, at the southern end of the Big Island of Hawaii, will hold a Biodiversity & Cultural Festival May 15-16 to coincide with the research to be conducted as part of National Geographic's BioBlitz.

Working alongside more than 150 scientists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners, thousands of people are expected to fan out across the park to document its animal and plant life, both in recent lava flows and nearby rainforests.

Participants will learn about endangered endemic species such as the nene, a Hawaiian goose, and the Mauna Loa silversword, a plant that flowers only once during its lifetime.

Participation is free, but pre-registration is required. Children 8 and older can take part if accompanied by a grown-up.

The simultaneous festival will offer a variety of entertainment, plus hands-on activities that lead to "graduation" from "Biodiversity University." The celebration will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 15 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 16 near the Kilauea Visitors Center. Admission is free.

Entrance fees to the park will be waived both days.

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