Categorized | Education

Parker Middle School environmental alternatives unity day

Rich Bailey of Dew Point Systems talks to Parker Middle School students about how wine grapes can be grown using condensation from cold, deep sea water. (Photo courtesy of Parker School)

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Parker Middle School students came together Friday, Feb. 3 for a day of environmental education. This was the second of three planned Middle School Unity Days for the 2011-2012 school year.

The first was Ocean Unity Day in November, when students studied ocean health, currents and tides, coastal plant species, and the Hawaiian history of the Kohala Coast.

The Unity Days are designed to perpetuate unity and cohesiveness among the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students via off-campus, hands-on, multi-disciplinary, experiential learning opportunities that take advantage of the resources the Big Island offers.

Prior to the Feb. 3 excursion day, a series of environmental and energy alternatives experts visited Parker School to speak to the middle school students: Stephen and Katherine Groves of Skyquest Energy spoke about the new solar panels they installed at Parker School and how they work; Parker’s Garden Project Coordinator Jared David-Chapman talked about sustainability and the school garden; Angela Kang, Recycling Specialist of Hawaii County visited to discuss sustainable living; and environmental consultant Carolyn Stewart presented a water erosion simulation.

The first stop on the excursion day was the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), the ocean science and technology park near Kona, where several businesses exploring sustainable industries are hubbed.

Executive Director of Friends of NELHA, Guy Toyama, gave the students a tour of the Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building beneath hundreds of solar panels.

Toyama said, “Hawaii’s vulnerability is our greatest asset as it forces us to shift our minds and be innovative and self-reliant. I was so impressed by the Parker School students and how they were not just interested in taking leadership, but obviously excited about tackling Hawaii’s challenges. I saw many of Hawaii’s future leaders, with bright eyed enthusiasm.”

Next, the students moved on to a vineyard at NELHA, where Rich Bailey of Dew Point Systems explained how wine grapes are grown using the condensation from cold, deep sea water.

Many were fascinated to hear that this method yields three grape crops per year. Then, at Keahole Solar Power, Dean Towle spoke about the sun’s pattern in the sky and how they concentrate the sun’s power to create heat to make electricity.

Following a picnic lunch by the beach at NELHA, the Parker School group ventured to the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kona. Recycling Specialist Angela Kang again met with the students here and gave them a tour of this almost 100% Zero Waste facility, and taught them about the center’s Zero Waste policies.

Sixth grader Kirk Hubbard said, “I enjoyed our field trip to NELHA because we learned about environmental alternatives, such as OTECH which is getting electricity from the ocean and the solar panels. It’s very interesting how they can save the environment using so much technology and they can still make money off of it.”

Eighth grader Thea Woodward said, “It’s definitely changed our opinions on our resources. We should be using them wisely and we can no longer just use single disposable stuff.”

Erika Kasberg, also an eighth grader, added, “I think the teachers are going to start thinking more about energy conservation and Zero Waste, so I think it’s going to affect our school in the future.”

Science teacher Mindy Higgins said, “I felt unity day was a great day for all of Parker Middle School to be together. We learned so much about the energy lab. We drive by it every day and for the first time I think we all realized how many innovative and wonderful environmental alternatives they are working on to make our future brighter.”

The last Parker Middle School Unity Day of the year (theme yet to be announced) is scheduled for April.

— Find out more:
www.parkerschool.net

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