PUA LOKE — Did Katie Nalesere have a live o‘opu? Lani Kawahara of the Kapaa Public Library wanted to know Thursday.
“We tried catching some last night for her presentation,” Kawahara said. “Did she have a live one for her program?”
Nalesere, of the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, Aquatic Resources Department, was one of the many presenters who took part in the Department of Water Project Wet Make A Splash program at the Pua Loke Arboretum.
She did not have a live o‘opu, but instead relied on some props to make her program work.
“I found this project on the curriculum for Project Aquatic Wild,” Nalesere said. “I found some props while shopping and adapted it for local use, talking about the o‘opu and its life cycle. I’m happy it worked out. Look at the kids having fun as o‘opu predators.”
Make A Splash, under the Project Wet curriculum, hosted more than 750 students from the fifth grade, hailing from public, private, charter and home schools.
“This is the 13th year, the Department of Water is hosting this water education program,” said Kim Tamaoka, DOW spokesperson. “We are very fortunate because we get help from so many organizations, including the Kapaa High School JROTC, Grove Farm, Kukuiula Development, the Kauai Invasive Species Committee, the Specific Chiropractic Center, the East and West Soil Conservation, the Department of Health-Safe Water Division, Hawaii Rural Water, Aqua Engineers, the state’s Dept. of Land and Natural Resources Aquatics, and Division of Forestry and Animal Wildlife, the Kauai Fire Dept., NOAA, the DOW board, and community volunteers, including DOW retirees and their families.”
Students roamed through 10 different stations where they engaged in hands-on activity while learning about different aspects of water, including the water cycle, how it impacts life, and its effect on the environment.
“This is great,” said Kristl Castillo-Gray, a DOW staff member. “This is my first time helping with Make A Splash, and it’s really a good thing. I learned about the o‘opu, myself — just by listening.”
Other students were more engaged in the physical aspect of Make A Splash.
“The Long Haul, a bucket brigade talking about water’s long journey, is my favorite,” said Colter Nolan from Kilauea Elementary School. “Some of the other stations we just sit and listen. This one is fun because we run a lot.”
Barbara Bloemke, a fifth-grade teacher from the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School, said The Long Haul had students doing the physical side of learning.
“I thought the NOAA station on water was the most interesting,” she said. “The students were engaged and learned a lot about the different fish. All of the stations were good about combining learning with an amount of physical exercise.”
Kirk Saiki, DOW manager and chief engineer, said he was pleased with how everything moved through the park.
“We work closely with all of these people involved with Make A Splash,” Saiki said. “I’m glad we could find a way to get the school kids bussed in. We work with a lot of these groups on a daily basis, and I’m glad we are able to collaborate to teach people about water.”