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Showing Karen Cole

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First Place

3-5 | All | Hands on activities

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My Classroom Innovation

On Kauai, beauty surrounds us 365 days a year. Yet, few teachers venture beyond their classroom to help students evaluate what's going on in our own "back yard." To better understand the environmental impact of people, animals, water, and natural disasters on the island, we take two three-day trips to Kokee State Park each year. We stop to do water quality testing at three estuaries on the island and view the long-term effects of erosion that have created the Waimea Canyon. We share the message that goat and pig hunting are valuable pursuits to help control erosion. The students spend four days removing invasive plant species and planting endemics. We've been monitoring the health of the Kealia estuary near our school for the past seven years. On frequent classroom excursions, students travel up and down the river, removing trash, evaluating sources of erosion and debris, and doing water quality testing. In the classroom, they're raising o'opu (a gobi fish unique to Hawaii with a freshwater/saltwater live cycle) and experimenting with a variety of macro organisms found in the stream to feed the fish. They're currently raising native plants to replace damage done at the estuary during reconstruction of a bridge.

How Students were Engaged

Hands-on investigations at various Kauai locations lead to individual student projects, based on their interests. Students take ownership in their investigations and use a variety of technology including presentation software, GPS handhelds, Palm handhelds with digital probes, digital cameras and video, and digital microscopes. Student engagement carries through from outdoor investigations to classroom tasks. We have created numerous community partnerships to facilitate our investigations and better understand ongoing island change. Students present their projects to over eight hundred Kapaa Elementary students in spring. Students have also presented to educators from all over the state at technology conferences in Honolulu.

PBS Program/Content Used