Maui News

Kula Elementary 4th Graders Help Save Sea Turtles by Making Educational Signs

May 7, 2021, 11:18 AM HST
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Kula Elementary fourth-graders teamed up with the Maui Ocean Center to help save sea turtles. Video Courtesy: Maui Ocean Center

To help the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute’s sea turtle response team save the marine creatures, fourth-grade students at Kula Elementary designed and painted educational wooden signs.

Students from Brit Oliphant and Amanda Shim’s classes were motivated to take action after learning about the threats facing sea turtles on Maui, including the fact 276 were found stranded on Maui in 2020, and what each person could do to make a difference.

“Accessible environmental education is an essential part of our mission,” said Tommy Cutt, the Marine Institute’s Executive Director. “We aim to inspire the next generation of marine scientists and ocean stewards.”

Some of the students’ signs focused on respectful behavior around sea turtles, while others provided the number to call if you see one in need of help.

  • Kula Elementary fourth-graders made signs to help sea turtles. Photo Courtesy: Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute
  • A Kula Elementary fourth-grader posing with her sign about what number to call if a person sees a turtle in trouble. Photo Courtesy: Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute



“Project-based learning promotes creativity while engaging students in real-world challenges or needs,” Shim said. “My students had fun and made a difference in our community while developing critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills.”

It did not take long for the signs to work.

“Yesterday morning, we received a call on our stranding hotline about a sea turtle entangled in fishing line,” said Chanel Browne, Sea Turtle Technician at the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute. “The caller knew who to call because she saw one of the signs made by the students at Kula Elementary.”

What can you do to help save sea turtles?

  1. Contact MOC Marine Institute if you see a sick or injured sea turtle on Maui at 808-286-2549.
  2. Participate in a beach or underwater cleanup, or conduct your own. Even picking up just a few items can make a big difference.
  3. Reduce your use of single-use plastics.
  4. Deposit used fishing line in fishing line recycling bins.
  5. Use barbless fishing hooks.
  6. Help educate others.

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