First-graders became "compost commandoes" at the Sustainability Fair, enthusiastically encouraging others to learn about nature's way of recycling organic material into rich, fertile soil.
Belting out "The Compost Boogie" -- with its memorable refrain "Decomposition! Less Trash!" -- the youngsters invited visitors to collect a tray of pretend food and drink, dispose of it properly in an array of buckets, and learn about how composting breaks down rubbish that might otherwise end up in the landfill.
"The first-graders were so excited about teaching others about our composting efforts at the Omidyar K - 1 Neighborhood," said teacher Susan Fushikoshi-Fung, who sang along enthusiastically with the students. "Not only does composting reduce waste, it helps your garden grow."
Their exhibit was one of many student curricular projects, hands-on activities, and displays from community organizations at Punahou School's sixth annual Sustainability Fair, which gets people thinking about how to live more sustainably, reduce waste, conserve water and energy and support local food production.
This year's fair, held April 20, 2012, also featured a mini farmers market, bottle and can recycling stations, recycled-art exhibits, a meditative labyrinth, and (new this year) an environmental film festival, which screened the documentaries "The Clean Bin Project," "Tapped," "Ingredients Hawai'i" and "Bag It: is Your Life Too Plastic?" in Thurston Memorial Chapel. Also new were recycled-art workshops led by local artists. Students lined up to create marine-animal murals from bottle caps, weave haku lei out of newspaper and cloth strips, braid plastic bags into strong rope, and craft "promise rings of sustainability" out of wire and small plastic bits of cleaned marine debris.
Some of the curricular displays spanned grade levels, such as the exhibit about Hawaiian plants presented by Mary Kane's third-graders. The students had worked with Academy Hawaiian Culture classes and JROTC cadets to plant a new native Hawaiian garden in the J-wing of the Winne Units, complementing the existing garden in the G-wing. Visitors to their fair exhibit played a matching game to learn about the plants on view, and each visitor received ipu seeds and instructions on how to grow the gourd, used as a musical instrument.
Nearby, Alex '12 and fellow seniors displayed their CapSEEDS projects, each with a sustainability focus. Alex built an aquaponics growing system, cultivating lettuce in filtered water fertilized by fish he raised within the multi-container, symbiotic setup. "It's an interdependent system that's self-sustaining," he explained.
Students, faculty, staff, parents and visitors from the community roamed the fair, learning with each stop along the way. "Coming to the fair encourages you to recycle and take care of the earth, and if you already do those things then it helps you get better at it, so that it becomes a habit for you," said Tori Lyn '21. "Plus, it's always a lot of fun."
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