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Science Assistants

What is OPIHI?

OPIHI (Our Project In Hawaii's Intertidal) is a school-based long-term monitoring project. Middle and high school students are trained in species identification and ecological monitoring techniques in the classroom before embarking on field trips to intertidal sites throughout the islands. Through OPIHI, students gain valuable scientific skills while being involved in an authentic ongoing scientific research project. The data the students collect provides important information to resource managers on a virtually unknown area of Hawaii's biota. Perhaps most importantly, students learn that science is fun!

Field trips

On OPIHI field trips, a class is divided into groups of approximately 3-5 students. Each group is paired with a science assistant who helps the students collect data along a stretch of the intertidal using standard sampling techniques.

Science Assistant Role:

  • Demonstrate to students that science doesn't only exist in a classroom, important data can be collected from a lot of different environments!
  • Encourage students be conscientious recorders and practice good scientific techniques as their data will be used in real research studies.
  • Help keep the students focused and on task.
  • Be excited about the intertidal - excitement is infectious!

You don't need to be a marine biologist!

Your role is to help the students identify intertidal organisms through the use of picture identification cards and books. Also, you won't be alone in the field. Other assistants with varying levels of marine knowledge and a teacher who is familiar with the project's protocols will be there to help you.

The monitoring equipment we use include transects and quadrats, both of which are easy to use and understand. In addition, the students will already be familiar with these methods from classroom activities.

It's FUN!

Come spend a couple of hours with us!

How to Be Prepared

Before your field trip please read the following documents so you will be familiar with the OPIHI methods and how to help.

OPIHI Science Assistant Protocols
OPIHI Science Assistant Essentials

If you are unfamiliar with transects and quadrats please look over the following guide.

Pictorial Methodology Guide to Transects and Quadrats

To further familiarize yourself with intertidal organisms you can look over the following:

Potentially Hazardous Intertidal Organisms
Algae Identification Sheets
Invertebrate Identification Sheet 1
Invertebrate Identification Sheet 2
Interesting Things About Intertidal Organisms

Check out the data sheets the students will be using:

Field Sampling - Transects and Conditions
Species Lists for OPIHI - Field Sheets

Cobble Areas:


Directions to Intertidal Sites - Oahu
Directions to Intertidal Sites - Maui and Big Island

OPIHI: Our Project in Hawaii's Interdental - Contact: philippo@hawaii.edu