Fall Break Ocean Learning
By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor
A self-driven learning kit will spark environmental exploration for fourth graders island-wide this week over fall break. The kits highlight pono fishing practices, the Hawaiian tradition of kilo – environmental observation – and reef education, in a family-friendly learning opportunity.
The Molokai kits were among 1,000 packets that were distributed statewide in a collaboration between the State Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), Hawaii State Public Library System, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The free “grab and go” Ocean Learning Kits focus on Malama o ke Kai, or taking care of the ocean.
Jeannine Rossa, a scientist and Molokai resident who now works on Maui at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said the kits were born from an idea of Jean Souza of the Kauai Ocean Discovery Center to distribute learning packets for families with kids at home during the pandemic. A grant allowed the project to evolve to statewide distribution.
Rossa said it’s more than just an agency collaboration.
“It’s four moms/aunties who are educators thinking about kids and families and our collective love of the ocean and how it sustains us,” she said. “And a whole team of people helped us put it together and make it happen!”
This week as Molokai keiki take a break from the classroom, they can continue to learn things like how fish use their sense of smell, how to tie fishing knots, take care of limu, and identify and color different species of turtles.
“[The kits] present material to them about things they care about — fishing, turtles, the ocean, learning how to observe their environment — in ways that are engaging to them, and then the teachers come back to school and [build off it],” explained Rossa. “[Kids] observe it in their own time and space rather than structured school environment. And
it’s something that parents can do together with their kids.”