A local STEM program recently provided an opportunity for fourth grade students to explore Kealia Pond. Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology initiative coordinated the valuable experiential learning for 127 fourth grade students from Pomaika`i and Kamali`i Elementary Schools. The students spent a full day discovering the wonders of the wetlands at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, a 704-acre bird sanctuary on Maui’s south coast.
With funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, students visited the Wildlife Refuge on May 11, accompanied by teachers and parents. Led by biologists, naturalists and other industry professionals, students observed Hawaii’s endangered wetland birds and migratory visitors firsthand. They also learned interesting facts about the area’s native plants and watershed ecology through fun, hands-on activities.
Activities included collecting data using GPS and mobile devices, and creating story maps to raise community awareness about issues affecting local watersheds.
“It was the perfect opportunity for our keiki to learn directly from wildlife experts, not only to make them more aware about different STEM careers but also, to teach them to become stewards of our islands,” said Isla Young, WIT K-12 STEM Director.
STEM supporters acknowledge seven industry partners that participated in the field day: Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge; East Maui Watershed Partnership; West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership; Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project; Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership; Natural Resource Data Solutions; and Hawaii DLNR, Division of Aquatic Resources.
MEDB’s Women in Technology is an initiative whose mission is to promote STEM throughout the state with hands-on and project-based service learning. For more information, visit Womenintech.com.
Photo courtesy MEDB