Founder, Lisa Hinano Rey has been working with non-profits, community partners and schools on Oahu training youth ages 12 to 20 on use of scientific equipment and methods for collecting water quality data since 2014. Students learn about water pollutions, its impacts and scientific methods for measuring water quality. In addition to raising awareness about the importance of clean fresh water resources in vulnerable island communities, the program increases the interest of Oceaniaʻs youth in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and to prepare students ages 12-20 for career possibilities. The Program aims to establish long-term, sustainable connections between researchers, public and private sector businesses and community. By using a citizen science approach that includes youth and community participation in the research process, the role of scientists in society and the scientific process can be demystified.
While teaching with the tools and methods of cutting edge Western science, we value and underscore the ancestral knowledge of our tupuna in the Pacific Islands. Without their incredible deep ecological knowledge, our communities and the indigenous peoples of Oceania, would have not thrived in our islands for thousands of years. We make it a priority to center the knowledge of the tupuna in our curriculum by asking questions such as, How did tupuna acquire the knowledge to become good land managers?, How are the tupuna ways similar or different to today’s methods?, and What is the evidence that tupuna were more skilled land managers than we are today?
Our goal in 2020 is to begin serving the communities of French Polynesia teaching the next generation of citizen scientists to investigate water quality in valleys and lagoons of Tahiti and Moorea. Vehia Wheeler has been establishing partnerships with agencies, business partners and community members who are excited to bring this program to French Polynesia.
Contributions to this endeavor help SOS MOOREA to purchase the scientific instruments and supplies for rigorous hands on learning.