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University of Hawai’i, Manoa

My second visit!

Mrs. Jepsen’s 4th grade class sent me on a second visit to the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. I learned many new things!

My first stop in Hawai’i was at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory, which is located right next to the water. At this laboratory, people study marine animals and how they develop, or grow into adults. Some of the animals they study are worms, sea slugs, and corals.

It is hot here, so I changed into a Hawaiian shirt. One thing I learned was that scientists don’t always wear white lab coats and goggles, especially if they work outside. In Dr. Mike Hadfield’s lab, I helped take care of the nudibranch (noo-di-brank) they study. It is a type of sea slug that eats corals. The adults were tough to find because they have are same colors as the coral. My job was to make sure they had enough coral to eat and to collect their yellow egg masses attached to the coral. These egg masses have the developing young.

When the eggs hatch, they turn into larvae that look very different from the adults and can swim. I had to use a microscope to see them. Biologists in Dr. Hadfield’s lab study how these coral predators grow from eggs to larvae to adults.

I also visited a greenhouse to learn about how plants are grown for replanting. These plants are growing in trays of dirt and are watered frequently and kept at the right temperature.

When they are larger, they will be replanted in areas that do not have these plants anymore. One experiment was looking at different ways to get plants to grow roots when they are replanted. My job was to check for rooting in this plant tray. I learned that there are many pests that can kill plants.

I learned that there are beautiful snails that only live in Hawaii. Graduate student Kevin Hall took me to find out where these rare snails live in the mountains. They usually live in places where there are no roads and few trails, so we had to take a helicopter to get there. The pilot said we can only take this trip when it is a sunny and calm day.

I looked over the side of the helicopter to look at all the green plants, but I had to hold on tight. Biologists have figured out that these snails only live on a few kinds of plants.

Once we landed, Kevin and I searched for snails on these plants.

After looking closely, I finally spotted a beautiful snail! I helped Kevin take a picture of each snail we found and clip a little piece of each snail’s foot off to study in the lab. It doesn’t hurt the snails and Kevin will use the tissue to help figure out how the snails are related.

It was a long day and we finally reached a cabin in the mountains where we slept until it was time to hunt snails the next day.

A group of engineers from the University of Hawai’i took a tour of a one-of-a-kind radar station the military uses to track many things. It is like the air-traffic control at an airport, but is much better. It can see anything in the whole Pacific Ocean! It usually stays in near Alaska’s coast, but was at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base for a tune-up. I couldn’t believe how big it was!

Dr. Jon Fram, an oceanographer, took me SCUBA diving to put in instruments that will measure how fast the water is moving and how the sand moves on the ocean floor. We had to take a boat to the place we wanted to study with other the other oceanographers in the picture.

Once we were at the site, we dove down 80 feet to fix some instruments that broke. We had to wear special equipment to breath underwater and to do our work, but I still got wet.

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