West Hawaii Explorations Academy

by Sasha Resetnikov, 11th Grade
Students at West Hawaii Explorations Academy have been involved in projects ranging from hydroponic gardening to aquaculture and seahorses. The academy is located near the Natural Energy Laboratory Authority of Hawaii, where research and commercial projects are conducted in ocean thermal energy conversion, aquaculture, chilled agriculture, and other marine-related technologies. Sasha Resetnikov reports on one of their projects:

One of the projects that students at the West Hawaii Explorations Academy chose to become involved in was an educational group whose purpose was to study marine organisms prevalent in the Kona area. After educating ourselves under the guidance of mentor Sara Peck, formerly with the Waikiki Aquarium, our group of eleven students became instructors, passing along information about tidepool organisms to groups of elementary students. The main organisms covred were sea urchins, sea cucumbers, sea stars, cone shells, hermit crabs, and coral. The purpose of the educator was to make the children aware of the environment of the tide pool and teach them how to have a low impact on the tide-pool ecosystem. Using mostly live organisms and a hands-on approach, students would rotate in small groups to different tables. We also taught the students what would happen if certain organisms were extinct. The students seemed really interested in the organisms and wanting to preserve the tidal ecosystem. The program was a huge success and over 900 students were given the tour. The program is being continued this year and we hope to educate even more students. We would often hear such comments as "I'm gonna make sure my brothers don't kill the animals anymore," and other similar phrases. That was the best part.