Project Description

Welcome to WIRED, The Watershed Investigations, Research, Education, and Design Project, a project of the Pacific American Foundation funded through grants from NOAA B-WET and EPA Environmental Education. 

WIRED brings together 6th-12th grade students and their teachers with University researchers, graduate students, undergraduate students, and private and public sector entities such as the Department of Land and Natural Resources in actual current environmental research projects.  WIRED is the lab and field science component of PAF’s Kulia Natural Resource Stewardship Program. Students collect valid scientific research data, creating meaningful outdoor experience.

The WIRED Program’s overarching goal is to improve science education in Hawai`i by increasing the interest of Hawai`i’s youth in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines through the use of current technology, culturally-relevant curriculum, and meaningful outdoor watershed educational experiences. The focus is on influencing student interest and preparation for secondary and postsecondary STEM courses and pathways by introducing them to principles and practice of the collection, analysis, and display of field ta impacting water quality and monitoring the impacts from both anthropogenic and natural sources.

The WIRED Program will connect students to current, ongoing, leading edge science investigations in the bays, streams, wetlands, ponds, and ocean of their school’s ahupua`a. Teachers will gain experience in leading water quality, bio-assessment, and ecological investigations where students gain appreciation for the scientific inquiry process and research level data sampling methods, as well as the design of sampling devices and habitat restoration tools. WIRED will also work with the teachers’ curriculum and pacing guides to implement innovative and best-practice teaching strategies that bridge in-and out-of-school activities. This will additionally increase the teachers’ comfort and knowledge of providing and developing higher level inquiry driven and hands on lessons. The nature of the Program will develop sustainable partnerships between scientists, educators, and community stakeholders to improve STEM instruction in Hawai`i schools.

Each school will be supported to study the environment of the local ahupua`a, pose questions about their observations, identify both anthropogenic and natural challenges posed to the watershed, with particular attention to the impact of climate change, including sedimentation, elevated temperatures leading to bleaching of coral populations, acidification, high nutrients from non-point source pollutants, and marine debris. Each school’s ahupua‘a and watershed provides a challenge for students to investigate the issues and assess the threats to a sustainable ecosystem. Students and teachers will gain connections to current research efforts in their school’s wetlands that provide the opportunity to conduct service learning project and enable students to give back.