Waikele Elementary partnership produces green learning environment


A private landscaping architectural and planning firm helps Waikele Elementary School design and build a rain garden that will be used to teach as well as help with drainage issues.

At Waikele Elementary School, staff noticed a problem area on the campus where rainwater occasionally pooled and spilled over onto the sidewalks.

In solving this problem, Waikele Elementary School teamed up with PBR Hawaii and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and came up with a solution went beyond stopping the drainage issue. It became a school project that incorporated Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lessons.​

"PBR Hawaii thought the project would work perfectly with a USGBC National Green Apple Day of Service, which is devoted to improve the surroundings of our students in schools," Waikele Principal Sheldon Oshio said. 

The national movement was launched by the USGBC​'s Center for Green Schools.

"By installing the rain garden, we are able to help the water flow to the back of the building," Vice Principal Nathan Maeda said. "The students did hands-on work themselves with some of the digging and planting."

For two weekends, dozens of volunteers from PBR Hawaii and the Waikele Elementary School staff and families turned out to dig the proper trenches, drainage and turn the soil. The hours of hard work paid off with a beautiful new garden and a natural learning environment.

"Students have been exposed to the engineering-design process," team facilitator Misha Shidaki said. "They're also working to keep the rain garden thriving. We're teaching the students to look at different aspects of the garden from water flow, water amount, plant growth, affects of rain garden on weather, bugs and insects."

Third-grade teachers are now making lesson plans based on the garden including rain levels, ecology and native plants.

"We want students to care about the garden and help to sustain and continue to grow the garden," Maeda said.

Shidaki added, "We see the students taking ownership of their learning and integrating their knowledge with experiences of this new project."

This is not the first time PBR Hawaii has helped out with projects at a school. Last year, PBR Hawaii worked with Manoa Elementary on a similar project.

The school is looking forward to continue its partnerships to help teach the students more about STEM and how it is present in their daily environment.

​​​​Learn more about what HIDOE is trying to accomplish with STEM Instruction.

Connect with our STEM-STEAM board on Pinterest. Email your resource suggestions to doeinfo@k12.hi.us.

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