KILAUEA — For the past month, the students in Stephanie Achuara’s seventh-grade Island School class have been discussing the balance between utilization and preservation of the environment.
Last week, about 35 of those students met at Kahili Beach, or Rock Quarry, with members of Kauai Invasive Species Committee, Hawaii Islands Land Trust and Surfrider Kauai to get their perspective on the topic.
Each organization sent staff members into the classroom before the field trip to get the kids ready for outdoor learning.
“So we’re talking to them about consumer education,” said Barbara Weidner, of Surfrider’s marine debris program.
“We did presentations in the classrooms and now they’re out here, picking up bottle caps and things.”
The goal, she said, is to inspire different choices in the grocery aisles and at home and change habits that contribute to marine debris.
Tiffani Keanini and Kelsey Brock, both with KISC, were also showing the kids how to collect and analyze data through a plant-based scavenger hunt.
“We’re teaching them botany,” Keanini said. “And we’re teaching them about invasive species.”
The kids were given a list of plants to find and then were asked to describe them. Those descriptions were matched with actual mounted specimens brought along with the KISC staff members.
Island School student Zeke Gamby said he doesn’t think he’ll be interested in working with plants when he gets older, as a career.
“I like being outside and doing this, though,” he said. “We’re learning how to identify different plants.”
The students also learned about the cultural connection to the land from Angela Anderson, Kauai Island Director for Hawaii Islands Land Trust.
“We’re talking about our relationship to the land and how we can protect it,” Anderson said.
Kids need an outlet for their energy, said Jeremy Brown, a parent who attended as a supervisor.
“I’m thrilled that the kids get to do this,” he said. “One of the best ways to learn is by seeing and touching the plants.”
The field trip is part of a monthlong project-based unit, Achuara said. The unit will be put together with other areas of study into a presentation at the end of the year so the kids can show what they’ve learned.
“When it comes to the environment, we’re looking at that central question — what role do you play?” she said.