University of Hawaii Gets New 45-Foot Education and Training Vessel for Island Students

Tomorrow, Friday, April 7, 2017, students from Ahuimanu Elementary will board the new 45-foot education and research vessel, Ka Noelo Kai (“seeking knowledge from the sea”), as part of its inaugural week of operations to support place-based experiential learning at the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Leaving from He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor, students will deploy a plankton net, collect data, and watch for green sea turtles and other marine life on their transit to HIMB on Moku o Lo‘e (Coconut Island).

Ka Noelo Kai in Kaneohe Bay, photo credit F. King/HIMB.

HIMB is an internationally recognized research and education facility, situated within Kāne‘ohe Bay and surrounded by 25 acres of protected coral reef refuge designated for scientific research. While on island, the Ahuimanu students will examine plankton through microscopes, participate in an invasive seaweed lab, and tour the research facilities with stops at the lab’s touch pool and shark enclosures. They will leave with new science and stewardship skills to assist them as they become our next generation of scientists, marine managers and ocean stewards, helping to find creative solutions to Hawai‘i’s environmental issues and challenges.

UH scientists and educators Dr. Malia Rivera and Mark Heckman have been growing programs at HIMB to provide pathways to science for Hawai‘i’s underserved elementary through high school student populations for the last nine years. Currently over 4,000 students and teachers attend programs and labs on the island annually. Many students visit the research facility from as young as 5 years of age via the community and family tours. They may come back next with their elementary school or middle school classes, then as high school students in HIMB’s more science intensive programs before entering the University of Hawai‘i as undergraduates.

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology/SOEST/ UH Manoa, photo credit Doug Peebles.

Ultimately a local student who visited as a child may return to gain a graduate degree and become an internationally recognized scientist or natural resource manager.

The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation generously provided funds to purchase the vessel, enabling more school groups and students to access the island’s facilities, gain training and delve into the mysteries of Kāne‘ohe Bay’s and Hawai‘i’s beautiful but threatened coral reef ecosystems and ocean waters.

The Ahuimanu Elementary’s fourth grade field trip to HIMB will run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017.  Student will gather at He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor located at 46-499 Kamehameha Highway in Kāne‘ohe.  Media are welcome.  For more information, contact Mark Heckman at mheckman@hawaii.edu or (808) 277-1691.

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