Where can you find the world's wettest terrain, the most active volcanoes and the shortest alphabet (just 12 letters)? Hawaii, home to exotic animal and plant life found nowhere else, is not only the youngest state in the U.S. but also the youngest land geologically, with volcanic eruptions still transforming its landscape. Discover the rich history and culture of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands through the direct links on the Times Launch Point Web site: http://www.latimes.com/launchpoint/.

Here are the best sites for getting your schoolwork done or for just having fun.

Level 1

Lu'au: A Hawaiian Feast: Hawaiian music ranges from the singing of ancient chants to the unique sounds of the slack key guitar. Explore the many arts featured in Hawaiian festivities: Listen to the music, view examples of hula dancing, try recipes for traditional foods and learn about the construction of leis, which are presented as a symbol of esteem.


Hawaii Information for School Reports: Hawaii's state tree is the kukui nut, which gave the ancient Hawaiians light, oil, relishes and medicine. Listen to Hawaii's state anthem as well as the songs of the state marine animal, the humpback whale. Get acquainted with Hawaii's geography, history and state emblems.


Ahupua's Adventure: From the Mountains to the Sea: Many Hawaiian legends feature stories of the Menehune, small magical beings that sometimes befriend people and perform amazing feats. Explore different aspects of Hawaii including local legends, plants, wildlife and history. Meet a master ukulele player and learn how to speak some Hawaiian, including how to say your name.


Level 2

Design Paradise: The Hawaiians' deep respect for their environment can be seen in their word for land--"aina," meaning "that which feeds." Explore the roles of industry, environment and population through this interactive game in which you plan the island of Kauai's future.


History of Surfing: Hawaiian kings and queens were surfing long before Capt. James Cook visited the islands in 1778. Learn just how important surfing was to Hawaiian culture and how western ways once threatened this ancient pastime.


Hawaii Center for Volcanology: Volcanic eruptions formed the Hawaiian Islands; today, the Big Island of Hawaii has five major volcanoes including Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on Earth, and Kilauea, one of the world's most lava-producing volcanoes. View maps, photos and diagrams that introduce you to Hawaii's spectacular volcanoes and learn about the plants that survive and even thrive in this environment.


Level 3

Hawaiian Culture and History: Hawaii was its own kingdom until the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani led to its becoming a U.S. territory and eventually the 50th state of the union. Explore Hawaiian history through a timeline and overview. Discover Hawaii's amazing plants and wildlife through photos and essays.


Aloha from Hawaii: This award-winning online magazine offers articles on many aspects of Hawaii, from ancient writings and canoes to the distinctive techniques of Hawaiian quilting and the plight of endangered species.


The Hula Pages: "Hula is the language of the heart and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people," said King David Kalokaua, who worked to keep the traditional art alive. Learn about the artistry, history and philosophy behind these dances, which tell ancient stories and express the aloha spirit.


Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Lynn Hardin, Heidi Heit, Brandi Bailey and Anna Manring.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

Why was surfing valued by the ancient Hawaiian chieftains?

CLUE: See History of Surfing

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 100 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to http://www.latimes.com/launchpoint/ for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: The arrogant alligator has a rough back because he went looking for Trouble and found him.

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