Learning STEM for Change – FEW-LOTS Summer Program for Youth
Food and water security are critical issues for the Marshall Islands, and more so in the light of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change such as drought caused by more frequent El Niños. This June 2016, 20 youth from Marshall Islands High School (MIHS) and Life Skills Academy (LSA) learned and practiced skills crucial for self-sufficiency and community resilience. They participated in three courses over 2 weeks, taught by The Wellness Center (a PREL partner) teachers from MIHS, and by the COOP (Cooperative) School. This event was sponsored by the Food, Energy, & Water: Leveraging and Organizing Toward Self-sustainability (FEW-LOTS) project, a joint supplemental grant to PCEP and Water for Life (WfL).
The first course was FEED – Food Education Every Day with staff from The Wellness Center. During this course, students learned how to use food grown in the MIHS and Life Skills Academy (LSA) Learning Gardens to prepare healthy and delicious lunches, including ma ‘breadfruit’, Chinese cabbage, chili peppers, green onions, and ni ‘coconut’. As the students prepared the food, The Wellness Center staff shared information about healthy lifestyle choices, diabetes prevention, and nutrition.
The Exploring Appropriate Technologies and Science (EATS) course resulted in the making of eight rocket stoves, three smokeless stoves, and one solar oven. Guided by Mr. Savu Nivau, a 4th grade and garden teacher at the COOP School, the students scaled up a demonstration solar oven to one large enough to hold a pot of food. Rocket and smokeless stoves use very little fuel, thus conserving energy. Each student made a rocket stove to take home. Two of the smokeless stoves went to schools in the Outer Islands, and one remained in Majuro.
The most popular course was Water for (4) Life. Mr. Charlie Donalin led a team of water ambassadors to test the quality of water on the MIHS and LSA campuses. Based on the test results, the students had to develop a plan to filter and clarify the water in order for it to be potable. Next, the students had to apply what they learned at home. After testing the water at home, the students developed and executed a water clarification plan for their families.
This summer program built on the positive experiences of PREL’s PCEP, FEW-LOTS and WfL projects, accentuating that everything is connected—food, energy, water, climate change—they are all part of Earth’s systems. Through learning about and practicing self-sufficiency, the participants are building their own resilience as well as the resilience of their communities.
report by and photos courtesy of Dr. Koh Ming Wei