Posted on September 24, 2017
Thursday morning I opened the classroom door to be greeted by 22 students eager with the anticipation of our day-long learning trip. Donning their hiking shoes, hats, and sunscreen, along with backpacks filled with inquiry journals, we boarded the bus, ready to explore the great outdoors and learn along the way.
My mood was equally giddy with excitement, being that this was going to be a whole new experience for me as well. I told the class I was feeling like a 3rd or 4th grader myself since I was looking forward to learning just as much as they were.
Kumu Leong passed out a watershed book for each student to take notes and the learning began as soon as we pulled out from our Mid-Pacific campus. She came equipped with a microphone and speaker so that she could speak to us as we made our way to 3 different watersheds. As our bus struggled and sputtered up the Pali, we came to our first stop, Nu'uanu Watershed.
Alfred from the Board of Water Supply was there to greet us as we made our way towards the reservoir. The view was spectacular, and we were only a couple hundred yards off the Pali! For many of our students, learning that our drinking water is actually rainwater that's between 20-25 years old was a surprising fact. Nu'uanu Reservoir is over 100 years old and is monitored and measured by the B.O.W.S.
We hiked a bit into the woods to view a former catchment pit that was once used to store the water. While we hiked, Alfred pointed out that 98% of the trees and plants we passed were all non-native to Hawaii. Perhaps your child shared with you what the only 2 native plants we viewed in Nu'uanu?
Our next stop was Kea'ahala Stream by Windward Mall. We learned this stream is part of the Kea'ahala Watershed. The interesting aspect of this stream is that it's smack dab in a busy part of town just on the side of a high-traffic road.
The B.O.W.S was finding lots of trash, debris and even motor-related liquids in the stream. Their solution was to
plant a "water garden" a term that was new to me. The water garden serves to trap the debris before making its way into the stream and has reduced the pollution by 80%.
Our final stop was in He'eia at the Papahana Kualola Lelekamanu Waipao site. And what a site it is! You can see it's absolutely breathtaking in my photos this week. Here we were greeted by Kumu Dave. We chanted an 'oli at each site announcing our presence, asking permission to enter, and stating that we've come with aloha, ready to learn. Each kumu chanted an 'oli back to us granting us entrance to these very special sites. At each site we also heard a mo'olelo, a Hawaiian legend that explained the cultural significance of the site.
Our class began in the education center with Kumu Leong as we participapted in a demonstration that showed how pollution enters our watersheds. As we gathered around a table stand model, the students used cocoa powder to simulate soil runoff, limeade powder mix to simulate fertilizer, and more cocoa powder to simulate factory and other pollution.
As we sprayed water over the model to simulate rain, we could observe the visual of all that pollution
entering our watershed. It served as a simple, yet powerful demonstration of how just 1 or 2 incidents of human mistake or carelessness affects our water supply.
We ended our day by hiking into He'eia Stream and finding a nice rock to sit on as we heard yet another mo'olelelo and learned the cultural significance of both the valley and watershed. We will be returning to He'eia Stream to do some stream work at a future date yet to be determined. As we said our mahalos and headed back to the bus, we had yet another lesson from Kumu Leong about the difference between bottled water vs. tap water in Hawaii. I'm not going to state the specifics in this blog because I'm requesting that you have a discussion with your child about tap water vs. bottled water. I'd like you to learn not only what your child took away from this field trip, but also begin the conversation about conservation, resources, and our future water supply. It truly is up to each of us to do our part, so I'm sure each child left with a new found respect for both our environment and our precious resources.