Project WET teaches water awareness

LIHU‘E — Hands-on is hard to beat in teaching lessons, and more than 400 fifth-grade students from schools around Kaua‘i got just that this week as part of the Make A Splash, Project WET.

Hosted by the county Department of Water, activity stations were set up Thursday at the Pua Loke park across from the DOW office.

“I’ve done projects like this on individual school basis,” said Joni Scharfenberg of the Alaska water department. “This is the first time I get to see how it’s done on a large scale.”

Scharfenberg said she’s worked with Faith Shiramizu, the DOW community relations officer, on some other projects and was thrilled to be able to coordinate a trip to Hawai‘i with the Make A Splash event.

Joy Buccat, Shiramizu’s assistant at the DOW, said the event is part of a national program, Project WET. The activities set up in Pua Loke are only a portion of what is available to educators to get students involved in water awareness and conservation, she added.

“After eight years of doing this, we have been able to talk to thousands of children about water,” said Bill Eddy, deputy manager. “If you ask the kids, they remember the Project WET and the conservation value of water. The original group of students are now in college.”

Eddy was flitting between the 10 activity stations offering instruction in various aspects of water awareness and conservation, overlapping with aspects of the environment, geology, health and science.

Shrieks of laughter and excitement dominated The Long Haul, a station demonstrating water delivery where students competed in a fire bucket brigade set up to transfer water from one trash container to another. The DOW got help from the Kaua‘i Fire Department, using its oversized hoses to keep the container filled.

H2Olympics had students counting water drops in demonstrating three properties of water, including adhesion where students worked to get the maximum number of water drops onto the surface of a penny.

Sum of the Parts, Water Works, graphically demonstrating the “competition” of water users for a single source of water, Bellyachers, Humpty Dumpty, Na Hana Noi‘i, the Incredible Journey and Aqua Bodies moved the students through various aspects of water.

“Without water, the world would not spin,” said Roy Oyama, who is president of the DOW board and the Kaua‘i Farm Bureau.

He watched intently from behind the scenes as the students took part in the activities.

“It takes a lot of volunteers to make this work, and I’m glad that they come out to do their thing,” Oyama said. “It’s about creating good communities for people who want Kaua‘i to be the real Kaua‘i.”

Shiramizu said more than 100 volunteers from the community and different agencies dealing with water turned out to help. The Kapa‘a Jr. ROTC had about 40 of its cadets helping to set up and escort the different groups of students through the arena of activity stations, some being called on to help “instruct” the stations.

“They’ve got my cell number,” said County Engineer Larry Dill, who headed up the Ground Water station, a position he has filled for several years. “When they call, how can you say ‘no’?”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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