1. Description of Our Community
Today, over 30% of Hawaii's natural lowland wetlands have been filled or converted to other land uses such as agriculture and urban expansion. Oahu's windward coast and wetlands are mostly small and isolated by topography and urban expansion, and most are closely associated with human communities. Long-term protection of the remaining wetlands is essential to ensure protection of native Hawaiian waters, flood control, ground water recharge, and aesthetic values. Hamakua Marsh is an urban wetland with intrinsic values that make it an important area for wildlife protection, and watershed interpretation and education. The Hamakua Marsh, had long been dry as the result of water diversion. The construction of a levy as part of 1960’s flood control measures had elimated the marshes major source of water, leaving the 22-acre “wetlands” mostly dry. As the marsh gradually dried out, heavy underbrush and thick mangroves began to encroach upon the landscape. Hamakua Marsh is currently dependent upon rainfall for its water and the native waterbird populations fluctuate with the water levels. As the area floods with seasonal rains, the bird populations increase. But as the area dries out, foraging area decreases, active nests are threatened and birds are forced to go elsewhere. A clean water source is needed to restore water flow in the marsh, increase reliable foraging and nesting habitat for endangered Hawaiian waterbirds, and to also improve the water quality in the adjacent Hamakua Canal.
2. Summary of Our Project
Over 350 students and parents in three windward elementary schools aided in restoring Hamakua Marsh as a wetland habitat for native Hawaiian waterfowl and shorebirds. After bulldozers crews from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and communtiy volunteers removed the brush and introduced mangrove trees, students joined in the restoration process. Kindergarten through six grade students from three windward schools responded. They cleaned trash from an adjacent canal. They planted native sedge and other species to provide nesting areas for birds. They illustrated, photographed and identified bird species. They conducted water quality testing for phosphates, nitrates, salinity, turbidity, and other indicators. And they contributed their ideas, as well. Research of all aspects of the marsh’s bird, plant, and water life and management was divided up between schools and classrooms according to ability and curricular goals. Grades 2 illustrated and wrote haiku about the birds while grades four and five researched species charateristics, behavior, diet, and reproductive cycle. Grade 3 classrooms researched the plant life as it pertained to eradication and revegetation necessary for waterbird habitat. One grade 6 classroom posted the results of their water testing and ideas about watershed management, while another classroom studied the existing marsh life of insects and fish. Hawaiian immersion students in grades 3-6 wrote about the cultural significance of the marsh’s place names, birds and water life. All efforts came together in the production of a website where students used multimedia technology tools to digitally articulate what they learned through an interactive presentation using illustration, animation, photography, text, and sound. The results showcase the knowledge they have to share and a “virtual marsh” that provides a model for habitat conservation for both the local and global community.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Extened access to technology tools for authoring was imperative for the success of this project. It required a flex lab schedule in order for students to have the time necessary to engage in the production process for web development. Only one school had such a schedule in place while the other two schools had a more traditional once a week 45 minute lab access for word processing and internet research. While this initially posed some problems we were able to find flexibility with other teachers willing to switch their lab time to accomodate the students during project development.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Multimedia project based learning across community issues requires teachers to learn along side students for both content and project development. In some cases we adjusted the level of participation to their comfort levels and in others we expanded the involvement for classrooms where students had take full ownership of the project and gladly accepted more responsibility. The process of gathering extensive data about Hawaii’s waterbirds required tenacious research by both teachers and students and parents. The process of extrapolating information from a variety of sources was often difficult for students who were used to reporting on content that is easily gathered and familiar to their teachers. We had break their habit of reporting known information and encouraged them to establish questions of wonderment so that they might find information about their topics that they didn’t already know. Reporting on the web means we have a wider and more critical audience and that requires a more thoughtful and qualitative approach. Elevating a student product that typically has an audience of one (teacher) to a product worthy of a global audience requires rich content displayed in an engaging interface. Teachers had to learn to facilitate students to behave as authors and researchers, creators and innovators where they are producing knowledge rather than reproducing knowledge. Refinement is a necessary process to attain quality and sometimes students thought that making something better meant they got it “wrong” the first time. If we are to create lifelong learners we need to change that perception.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
“I had no idea we could make something so big.” Grade 4 Student
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
A total of 14 classrooms (350) students in grades K-6 participated in this project addressed the language arts, social studies and science standards and curriculum relevant to their topic and grade level. For example one grade 2 classroom broke into groups to research general information about each native hawaiian waterbird (science) and then wrote a haiku about their unique characteristics (language arts). A grade 3 class studied native plants (sciences) and grew native sedges from seed which they later planted at the marsh. Hawaiian immersion students in grades 3-6 researched the cultural significance of the area (social studies) as well as the native plants, birds and stream life (sciences) that was once plentiful in the area and then translated the research in English class (language arts). All classrooms addressed the standards for Fine Arts (students identify, understand, and apply the elements and principles of art using the language of the visual arts), and Career and Life Skills (students demonstrate repect for others in class and work cooperatively as a team member on class projects). Each classroom also addressed the Educational Technology Standards where students use technology tools to create appropriate multimedia products and presentations appropriate to own development; work as a contributing member of a team when using technology in the classroom; use keyboard commands, menu commands, toolbars, and other navigational tools in the operation of software that extends beyond minimal functions; and use technology tools (e.g. multimedia authoring) for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for audiences inside and outside the classroom.