Sandwatch begins at the Melekeok Elementary School, Palau
The Sandwatch program was first introduced to me in New Caledonia in October 2014. I was honoured to be among the scant couple of dozens of educators chosen by UNESCO, and the only participant from the Republic of Palau to attend their Climate Change Education Workshop for the Pacific region. It was uplifting to meet French speaking teachers from New Caledonia and trainers from across our basin as well as one participant from the Indian Ocean.
Filled with fervour on my return to Palau, I collected a handful of children from our local Melekeok Elementary School and surveyed 350 meters of Ngerang Beach from Melekeok State Office to Ngerang Senior Citizens Center on Melekeok Constitution Day, November 3, 2014. This beach is very important to me personally because I was married here thirty years ago in an outdoor ceremony under the coconut trees. I have watched it change with several versions of the gazebo in front of the old women’s meeting house, many repairs to the 300m stone dock, addition of riprap placed after the devastating Typhoon Bopha three years ago, and building of a tourists’ barbecue house.
Also in early November I helped my eighth grade science class conduct an experiment on the effects of carbon dioxide on the pH of water and the associated effects of acid on shellfish. They concluded that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could threaten our calcium carbonate sand beaches. The following week I presented a summary of the New Caledonia workshop to the annual meeting of the Pacific Islands Archives, Libraries and Museums Association with some photos of the Ngerang survey. The local chapter of Palau Association of Libraries invited me to do a twenty minute pH indicator demonstration with cabbage juice at their quarterly meeting December 12, 2014 and give hints of how librarians can help science students.
But then the holiday season captured our attention and my activities focused elsewhere. Now that school has resumed, my efforts have resumed. I have attempted to upload information to the Sandwatch International Database. Once I downloaded and installed the required flash player, I could start using the helpful, cooperative website. At the end of January will be our school’s monthly Cultural Day where I hope to have our seventh and eighth grade classes survey the beach in front of our school.
Uploading data from those surveys onto the Sandwatch International Database, preparing to present at the Pacific Education Convention in the Marshall Islands at the end of July, and the Palau Education Convention in August are my new year’s resolutions. Although forced to retire from public service at the end of this year, I remain committed to education. I am grateful to be allowed to live and work in balmy, peaceful Melekeok, capitol of Palau (7◦N, 135◦E.)