28 Mar

Katja Blogs

Hi my name is KATJA I am Guest Blogging for my mama.

Today I will talk about Spring SNAP at Hawai’i Nature Center. (As dictated to mama.)


I went on a hike on Makiki Loop trail. It was a long loop. It was hard, but it was fun. I was so excited because I got to play camouflage. Camouflage is a game where one person stands in one place and the other people hide. Then, the person standing turns around but cannot move out of his or her spot. They have to turn around in circles. Once the person has been looking too long they do it again and those people that he or she didn’t find have to move 10 steps forward. That was good. I found 10 kukui nuts on the ground. When I got home, I got out a nut cracker and a garlic press and a piece of cloth. First my mom cracked the shells. We put the nut in the garlic press and pressed it. Then we put it in the cloth and squeezed the oil out.


I went on a really log hike to the top of a really long trail. It was long. Really, really, really long [from mama: regular readers might recognize this as the dreaded lighthouse hike]. We saw whales! It was amaaaaaaaazing. Really, really amazing! I learned how whales communicate. They go all the way down to the sound channel then they do a song without using vocal cords. Then the sound channel makes it go really far and if another whale is down also in the sound channel it will hear it. I also learned different behaviors. I learned how they breach. And their tail slap. I saw it from the bus on the way back. The third behavior is spy hop. And the bubble net. When I went back I saw this whale waving goodbye with it’s tail. It was slapping and slapping and slapping. It was coooool. My drawing is a whale doing the bubble net, over the sound channel. Underneath the sound channel is the sand and in the sand is a treasure chest. There is krill in front of the whale.


Today I went a bamboo forest. It was really, really, really fun. The bamboos are really big and amazing and really super big and we got to take a little bamboo and play music on them. Then, we went to back to the nature center. We dropped off our bamboos and went to the taro patch. The Hawaiian name for taro is Kalo. We pulled the weeds and then we watered. We also jumped in the mud and had lots and lots of fun. Taro grows in mud. We jumped and jumped. Afterwards we went back to the nature center and washed ourselves off and changed our clothes. Then we ate lunch. Afterwards we turned our bamboo into instruments. We could choose from two different instruments. One group got holes drilled in the bamboo. For our group the instructors cut notches in them.


Today I went to a beach. It was really, really fun and there was this big, big stick sticking in the sand. I got my towel and do you know what did? I tied the top to the top of the stick and it was a sail! It was really, really amazing. It was so cool because I pretended it was on a boat and I was sailing on the ocean. We jumped in the waves and built sand castles. When we got back to the nature center, we played games. I wrote in my journal that Waimanalo means “sweet water.” I also wrote a list of things to look for when you’re finding a place to live on a Hawaiian island: water, food/fish, view, access to ocean, close to mountains. We also learned what ohana means. Ohana means family: extended family, friends, plants and animals. At the bottom there is earth mother and at the top there is sky father. In the middle is taro (our older brother) and people.


Today was stream day. We learned about where stream water comes from. The rain pours down onto a mountain. Some goes to the ocean, but some of it goes down to the roots and into the aquifer. In the aquifer it gets filtered and it takes lots and lots of years just to get to us. We should make sure that we have some plants and trees to catch the rainwater so it gets to the aquifer. We went fishing at one location. We used nets. We only caught shrimp, but we also caught two toads. After 45 minutes we went to another location and we wrote a poem about our favorite thing. I wrote about water:

Water clean and fresh floing
throo a butiful shtreem
making satsh a butiful
sawnd it makes me laf

I drew a picture which was the stream and I drew lots of rocks and plants. When we got back to the nature center we ate lunch and made beautiful boats. We had to first decorate a sail. We took some clay and stuck it on the little boat, and I also plugged some holes. After I stuck the mast in the clay we could make things to put in the boat. At one point we had a chance to float our boats or just go fishing. I did not let my boat free. Mine was too precious. So was Zavi’s.

I liked my week at SNAP.

08 Feb

Ka Iwi Coast

This is the Blowhole viewed from above — a tourist attraction southwest of Honolulu. It’s actually more dramatic from Sandy Beach down below, but we were at the top parking lot, meeting our Hawai’i Nature Center group for a coastal walk. We saw whales spouting and rounding off the coast as we waited for people to assemble.

The official purpose of the walk was to learn about native Hawaiian coastal plants — this being the best place on the island (if not the state) to see such a variety. We were there as an excuse to get outside and see more of Oahu. The kids learned the difference between indigenous, endemic and introduced plants.

We saw plants like the ‘Ilima which is Oahu’s flower (the hibiscus is the state flower, but each island has it’s own flower or plant too). It takes hundreds of these little flowers to make a lei. We also saw Hawaiian Nama which is endemic to the islands and becoming quite rare.

We took a meandering route to Pele’s Chair for lunch. Legend says this is one of the places from which the fire/volcano goddess Pele left Oahu and went to work on the other islands. Our guide has some other juicy tidbits, but as I was with the kids, I was out of earshot. I think it had to do with Pele’s older sister chasing her from island to island flooding her fires in retribution after Pele had seduced her boyfriend.

Another legend is attached to this plant, the Beach Naupaka. The princess Naupaka fell in love with the commoner Kaui. Since custom forbade them to be together, she tore the flower in her hair apart and gave half to him. She stayed in the mountains where the Naupaka Kuahiwi (Mountain Naupaka) now grow sympathetically in an upward facing fan and he was banished to the coastal areas where the Naupaka Kahakai have since grown in a downward facing fan. It’s also a hardy shrub that is essential to maintaining the coastal ecosystem.

The other hikers in our group were wonderful and friendly. One volunteer is a preschool teacher and she took to my kids. At Pele’s Chair, she found a rounded rock and explained to my son how the Hawaiians used to play a game trying to roll it on the edge between two sticks. We didn’t have straight sticks, but did try to throw the stone so it would roll on it’s side. There was some success.

All in all a great day; good weather, good people, good sights (even a big green turtle (Hono) in one of the inlets), and just enough of a walk to wear the kids out, but not enough to elicit too many complaints.

03 Feb

Awesome Field Trip

On Monday, I joined my son’s fourth grade class field trip to Pu’u Ualaka’a park near the top of Mount Tantalus in the Honolulu Watershed (the necessity for, and protection of, being a major point made throughout the day). Tantalus is a rather ominous name, but Pu’u Ualaka’a apparently means Hill of the Rolling Sweet Potatoes since the early Hawaiians grew them here and rolled the harvest downhill rather than carry it.

The program was put on by Hawai’i Nature Center and instructors Jaime and Randy did an awesome job. Randy showed the kids how water does and doesn’t get into underground aquifers and had them check biodiversity in the forest downhill from the photo. Everyone became forest rangers on a short hike designed to highlight some of the local plants and issues.

Jaime gave the best geology demonstration I’ve ever seen. We sat around a big map of the world with the Hawaiian islands conveniently placed in the center (wow do we look isolated out there in the middle of the Atlantic Pacific). She asked the kids how a boiled egg was like the earth and they knew that the yolk represented the core, the white the mantle, and the shell the crust — which brought us to tectonic plates. The kids had been studying all this in class, so they knew that earthquakes and volcanic activity happen at the edges of plates where they rub together. She had them place little flames on the map where most activity is and they recognized it as the Ring of Fire. But we’re in the middle of the plate. In the photo above, she’s showing us the theory of the hot spot in the center.

Here’s an island forming in the center of the hot spot (we’ll call it Ni’ihau)…

But tectonic plates move, so the little island on the plate gets pushed away from the hot spot and another one forms (Kaua’i) and then another (Oahu is moving slowly off the hot spot in the photo above). Lana’i, Molokai’i, Kahol’olawe and Maui bubbled up pretty close together, then comes the Big Island, Hawai’i — which is still sitting mostly on the hot spot and therefore active. What’s next? The kids proudly named Lo’ihi, a growing island still submerged.

Then it was time to replace the hot spot with a bit of ocean and build our island, Oahu. Here, two kids are using crushed lava rock to build the two shield volcanos that formed the island, Wai’anea and Ko’olau.

Then comes erosion from wind, waves and rain (the three girls above). At some point, rocks were added to represent the three smaller, but more explosive volcanos that formed Punchbowl, Diamond Head and Koko Head. Global warming brought a higher water level (kids poured in water from iceberg shaped containers) and coral formed around the island. The ice age lowered water levels again (sucked back up by turkey basters and returned to the icebergs) and soon we had a bowl of mud that resembled Oahu enough for the kids to recognize the Oahu Plain (where school is).

Jaime added some birds and plants grown from the seed they, or the wind and waves brought. Then came the Polynesians in that little stick canoe in the back, bringing pigs, chickens and more plants. Then came more people in modern times and built a different kind of house, added cars, and removed some trees and introduced some others. It was simple, but the kids were rapt with attention and really “got” the whole presentation.

Between creating an island, doing scientific experiments, and our ranger hike, and probably all that fresh air, the kids slept on the bus ride back to school! They all said it was a great field trip though. And I’ve signed up myself and my kids to participate this weekend in a Hawai’i Nature Center coastal walk where hopefully we’ll see many of the native plants my son has been learning about in school.