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    Ecosystem Penpals

    The creation of the Ecosystem Penpals Program begun with the meeting of marine educators through the Papahānaumokuākea ‘Ahahui Alaka‘i (PAA) experiential leadership program. This experience in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument provided the inspiration for the Ecosystem Penpals environmental, cultural and natural history exchange program. The aim is to bring together students from communities adjacent to National Marine Sanctuaries within the Pacific – with one in the Hawaiian Islands (Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument). This project is a collaboration between the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology and Seattle Aquarium. Our goal is to foster awareness and understanding of local ocean and coastal ecosystems, facilitate cultural exchange between students in the Pacific Rim and use local ecosystems as a context for learning about traditional culture and the environment.

    Program Objectives

    The program will aid teachers by providing a framework for activity implementation and connecting schools in the Pacific. The Ecosystem Penpals program will help students:

    1. Research, design and create field guides of their local environment and communities with a focus on understanding natural and cultural systems
    2. Create an “ecosystem suitcase” with objects from the natural environment, as well as cultural artifacts created by the students
    3. Create a forum for students to discuss relevant issues about their local ecosystem, including climate change and ocean literacy.
    4. Share personal experiences and local traditions
    5. Communicate across cultures through social networking

    Student Learning Outcomes

    • Increase familiarity with local ecosystem and issues around ocean literacy and climate change
    • Identification skills of endemic/native plants and animals in ecosystem
    • Increase communication skills in writing and corresponding with peers
    • Relationship building with other cultures/students in other geographic areas
    • Respect and appreciation for local environment and culture
    • Understand ecosystem based science and develop support for ocean conservation.
    • Bring awareness of career choices in ocean science and marine conservation.

    We are currently looking for classrooms in both Hawaii and throughout the Pacific region to participate in our upcoming program. If you are interested or would like more information please email cwiener@hawaii.edu or call (808) 235-9303.