University of Hawai’i, Manoa

I’m so lucky! Two classes sent me to the University of Hawai’i, Manoa!
Mr. Morrow’s 4th grade class sent me on this adventure: My first stop in Hawai’i was at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory 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 learned how to raise a worm that is very common in tropical bays. This worm forms a hard tube that is its home. The adults are living on this mesh in a tank outside. My job was to carefully collect a few worms to use as parents for the next generation using special tweezers called forceps.

The baby worms start as small eggs and grow into larvae (lar-vee) that swim and look very different from the adults. I had to look through a microscope to see them, because they were so small. I could see their two big eyes and little ring of stuff that looked like hairs called cilia. They use the cilia to swim around to find food. Biologists in this lab study how these worms grow from fertilized eggs to larvae to adults. They also study how these worms choose a place to make their home.

(photo credit: Brian Nedved) I went to Ford Island at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. The Navy has many ships that have a lot of animals like worms, sponges, and oysters that grow on them. These animals slow down the ships, so I helped find out what types of paint are best for keeping these animals off. Here, I am in front of some panels with different paints that I lifted out of the water. I used something called a force gauge to measure how much force I needed to get worms off different paints. Some paints didn’t need me to press as hard as others, so they are better for keeping these pests off!

I left the marine lab and visited Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo, Hawai’i to learn about how plants are grown for replanting.

One of my jobs was to help cultivate avocado trees by grafting, which is a common way of growing many kinds of trees that are difficult to grow from seeds. Grafting usually means taking a branch of the plant you want to grow with its stem, leaves, and flowers and sticks them in a special way to the roots of another plant.

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 machines that will measure how fast the water is moving and how the sand moves on the ocean floor. Our job was to fix an instrument that broke. We had to wear special equipment to breathe underwater and to do our work. We got really wet.

Mrs. Jepson’s 4th grade class also sent me to the University of Hawai’i, Manoa! Click here to see that adventure!