Monday, June 14, 1999

Lanikai students’
water project wins
global award

The sixth-graders created a Web site

By Helen Altonn


Lanikai School sixth-graders during the past year learned a lot about water, research and technology.

The combined result: an international award in competition with about 300 entries from high school students.

The Lanikai students created a Web site about water in their community that won first place in the environment category of CyberFAIR, a contest conducted by the San Diego-based Global Schoolhouse.

The site was described as "impressive" by University of Hawaii oceanographer Ed Laws, who was among the scientists consulted by the students.

Unlimited access to technology

Wanda Harris, teacher of Lanikai School's sixth-grade academy, said the students were watching by computer when the awards recently were made.

"They announced the runners-up. When they got to the second runner-up and we hadn't heard our name, we screamed so loud we didn't hear our name," she said. "The teachers in the library were jumping up and down. I think there was a seismic reaction around here."

Harris said the project began in a partnership with the LET (Learning Education Technology) Academy to create a 21st-century classroom.

Lauren Apiki, multimedia integration consultant to public and private K-12 classes, moved her LET Academy into the classroom to give the students unlimited access to technology, she said.

"Since we are on the ocean, we decided we would answer a central question: What do we know about water and our community?" Harris said.

'Definitely a win-win situation'

In two months of intense work, the 36 sixth-graders interviewed scientists, lifeguards and fishermen and did research and experiments to develop their Web site at

They walked to the beach during class, gathering sand, doing salinity tests and taking photographs, Harris said. One student took 24 pictures for a 360-degree, panoramic picture.

The students interviewed several people, arranged for speakers and did research on the Internet, in the library and by writing to schools, she said.

Apiki trained them to make a Web page, and they created "Webographies," a home page about themselves that became part of the bigger project, Harris said.

"It was definitely a win-win situation," said Apiki, who provided the class with 10 multimedia computers, two scanners and other tools to become Web designers and authors.

She said the project integrated all class subjects, including math and science, languages, music and art.

Harris said her students in the next school year will do research on Kawainui Marsh. She's trying to get a grant for the project, called the "Mombasa Trip," so students can share the information on the Web.

The projects are planned a year in advance, Harris said. "We didn't want these kids to lose that thought process."

Laws, who is on the Kailua Bay Advisory Council, said other schools perhaps could do something similar to the Lanikai School program. "We'd like to help the Department of Education with environmental awareness programs."

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