The Hawai'i Nature Center environmental educators and cultural practitioners infuse our program with place-based knowledge and Hawaiian values. One of the central themes of our program is to mālama Hawai'i (to care for Hawai'i). For our coastal component today, we cared for Hawai'i through service learning; that is, we learned about the environment by helping to protect it! Official agencies in charge of important natural areas often do not have the funds or manpower to maintain them, so many people choose to volunteer in conservation efforts. Everyone's help is needed in order to help our environment be more resilient to the effects of climate change. I appreciated the help of all the middle school students today!
When I was a little girl on the New Hampshire coast, my favorite activity was to explore the tide pools, scrambling along the rocky intertidal zone from pool to pool. I would lift up big piles of seaweed and scan for scurrying crabs and clinging sea stars. I would wade in the deeper pools. And I would always remember what my father taught me: you can pick up a rock to look underneath but always put it back just as it was— something makes a home there. Tide pool exploration was an important training ground for a curiosity about the natural world and a career in science education. Thus, it is always a pleasure to share this particular outdoor classroom with students.
Here at Sandy Beach Park, students conducted a field study similar to that of the stream study, this time in coastal tide pools. Students made predictions and then assessed tide pools in different intertidal zones: upper, middle, and lower. In each of the tide pools studied, student measured and recorded pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and other environmental data. Students also searched for creatures in the tide pools to quantify the biodiversity.
Students discovered some very interesting marine invertebrates in the tide pools! We placed some of the animals in buckets, so everyone had a chance to see them (don't worry, they were handled carefully and put back where they came from!) Students laughed at the snakelike movement of brittle star arms. They got a chance to feel a sea cucumber's soft body and let a hermit crab scoot across their hand. And they saw how a Spanish Dancer nudibranch got its name as it gracefully undulated through the water, crimson colors blazing. We discussed the unique adaptations of these creatures for life in the intertidal zone. Remember, climate change threatens our ocean and its impacts will be felt in the intertidal zone as well. Warmer, more acidic water and rising sea levels will shift habitats and threaten biodiversity.