Maui Preparatory Academy students Malama Kai
NAPILI – Do you ever stop and wonder if your actions impact our environment and to what extent? What if we all changed the way we live to better our environment and ultimately the human race itself? Well, at Maui Preparatory Academy, the Environmental Science Class is thinking about simple ways to accomplish this every day.
At Maui Preparatory Academy in Annie Corson’s Environmental Science Class, junior and senior students have been studying a variety of issues related to Earth’s oceans and Maui’s coastline. Students broke up into smaller groups to pursue passion projects on these issues.
In one project, students and avid surfers Alejandro Prieto, Ty Kirby and Yijie Wang wrote a skit to highlight many different environmental issues one might encounter on a trip to the beach.
“The point of the project is concerning people about the impact they have in the environment around them, especially on the ocean,” said Alejandro, “and promoting the audience to make choices that affect our island in a positive way. Let’s leave the beach cleaner than we arrived, because together we can make a difference in our island.”
Maui Interscholastic League Bodyboard Champion Kirby added, “As surfers, we also very much care about our oceans and how we are able to enjoy clean beaches and clean water; the leftover trash is a problem for many marine species.”
In another project, Marianna Schwarzenbeck, a senior boarding student from Brazil, taught children that recycling is one of the solutions for many environmental problems.
The kids learned how to recycle their own paper. They took old paper notes, cut them in little pieces, mixed them with water, put it on the frame and let it dry. At the end of the class, the children had new, useful recycled paper and more knowledge about the environment.
Junior boarding students Natalia Calderon of Mexico City and Nadine Cunha of Sao Paulo had important goals in their project.
“The point is to make people understand how coral bleaching and other issues related to the ocean are affecting us, why it is important to us in Maui and what we can do,” said Natalia.
According to Nadine, they also care a lot about the importance of the coral reefs on Maui.
“The reefs are the basis of the marine ecosystem and protect the coast. They provide subsistence, recreational and commercial fishing, tourism, surfing spots and diving, and creating economic income,” she said.
The girls were motivated by the horrible reality that 60 percent of coral reefs may be at risk because of human activities, such as climate change, and all the corals might be dead in 30 years.
Seniors Logan Twigg and Jakob Nussbaum had their own idea for a project. They decided they would write a letter to someone in Hawaii State Government bringing to their attention the problems created with the improper usage and disposal of fishing nets.
The fishing nets are used throughout the day by the fishing companies and then are dropped in the ocean. The nets are left there where they can cover the reefs, resulting in the death of the coral. The nets are also responsible for entangling marine organisms.
Junior Harrison Cramond used his drawing to compare the impacts of different worldviews. One worldview takes Earth’s resources and uses them with little thought as to the consequences. Another worldview takes Earth’s resources and uses them carefully with a systems perspective that considers long-term and unintended impacts of the use of these resources. The effects of these worldviews are portrayed in the right hand and left hand respectively, and the Earth herself hangs in the balance.
“I loved that this entire project all originated from student passion to share what we’ve been learning with more people,” said Corson.
“We focused the projects on the ocean because our lives here in Maui are so dependent on the ocean. The ocean is also what connects people both around the world and in our classroom. Our Environmental Science Class is made up of students from Maui, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, China and Spain. It definitely inspired me to do more projects in the classroom that are student-driven.”
The key takeaway for students was put most elegantly by Natalia: “We should take care of our Maui home.”
(Mahalo to the Maui Preparatory Academy Environmental Science Class for writing this article.)