Taking science to the beach

To cap off the Koloa Summer Fun program, more than 50 keiki participated in a Science at the Beach workshop at Po‘ipu Beach Park yesterday.

Led by NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary staff and volunteers, yesterday’s activities included gyotaku (fish) prints, ocean etiquette, sand analysis and the dissection of albatross boluses.

“I like to incorporate (into the program) the kids learning about their own environment,” Pat Ho, Koloa recreation leader, said. “The kids need to know science isn’t boring.”

Ho became interested in having the kids participate in a science workshop after reading an article about a Science at the Beach program that occurred in March.

“It’s total hands-on and you can’t do that in the classroom,” Ho said. “It lets learning be fun.”

Bruce Parsil, a NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Hui volunteer, said doing activities like dissecting an albatross bolus was better to do in person than watching in a classroom setting.

“The more hands-on it is, the more it will stick with the kids,” Parsil said.

A highlight for Parsil and the kids was a sea turtle resting on the tombolo at Po‘ipu Beach.

“They were thrilled that a turtle is on the beach,” he said. “They were curious about the turtle — they were looking through binoculars and asking a lot of questions.”

Some of the kids had never seen a sea turtle before, Parsil added.

Parsil said that if the kids remembered just one thing that they had learned during the workshop, it could be the start of ocean conservation and stewardship.

“If they learn something along with it (the activities) or just remember one thing — the turtle, the fish prints — it makes a difference,” Parsil said.

Another highlight of the day was a session with Jean Souza, Kaua‘i program coordinator of the sanctuary. Souza led the Each One, Teach One session in which students would spend a few minutes with Souza learning about a particular sea creature or plant. They would then go back to the group and share with the others what they had learned.

“A lot of kids, when they’re in the water, might not be aware of some of the sea creatures because they aren’t easily seen,” Souza said. “So we talked about what they are, their habitat, their behavior and what their diets consist of.”

The kids also colored pictures on reef hats of the sea creatures they learned about during their session.

Mary Neudorffer, a volunteer with the sanctuary, said the Each One, Teach One session teaches the kids about ocean critters they might recognize, like a monk seal, but knew nothing about.

“That’s the surprising thing — you would think these kids who grew up around here would know about ocean creatures, but most don’t,” she said.

For some of the kids, when they come to the beach, it’s for water play, Souza said.

“What we’re hoping to do is to increase their awareness and deepen their understanding about things that happen at the ocean year round,” Souza said. “When they come to play at the beach, they don’t think much about the reef environment or marine mammals.”

Overall, Souza felt the kids were attentive and engaged in marine life, conservation and ocean etiquette.

“They were really engrossed in it — learning from each other,” Souza said. “We felt the kids did learn from this program. We think the next time they come to the beach they will remember more information.”

• Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or rgehrlein@kauaipubco.com


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.