Innovative Education – Dr. Don Sand


Create hands-on learning opportunities for students and communities to promote simpler and greener lifestyles that will reduce living costs by reusing, recycling, and recovering resources. Involve youth in digital media and position them to become teachers of sustainability through becoming proficient video producers as they become innovative masters of sustainability themselves. Use social media programs and to share sustainability videos and products

Please describe your innovation?

This innovation harnesses students’ passion and vision for their futures to showcase solutions to the uniquely high cost of living challenging young island residents. Invite K-12, college students and the community to collaborate, design and build low cost tiny homes and retrofitted school buses that would be used as shelters which would integrate aquaponic organic food producing systems, photovoltaics, solar panels, and worm farms. All would be aligned to the Hawaii DOE’s Career Technology and Engineering standards. Build 4 trailers near the Kahuku High & Intermediate campus: One with a tiny off-the-grid home; One with an aquaponics system; One with a worm and chicken farm and square foot garden; One with a Sunetrics renewable energy demonstration trailer, all powered with photovoltaics to showcase at different schools, farmer’s markets, trade shows. Include tents, displays, banners of each student’s project, tables, educational materials and videos for sustainability presentations.

What is the problem or situation that your innovation seeks to address?

Life in Hawaii is becoming less sustainable due to the lack of locally grown food, the poor economy, the high cost of fuel, the cost and availability of low-cost housing, expensive utilities, and our growing dependence on imported and unhealthy processed food. The youth of this island are the future and have inherited all our challenges. As they produce educational videos they will learn: to address the importance of growing healthy organic food in our own backyards using aquaponics systems that use 95% less water and use ten times less space than farming in dirt. They will also learn to see how we can use less energy in our homes by downsizing unnecessary items that waste our limited resources and time. Only one shipping company is used to import 95% of all foods entering the island. This project seeks to provide the community the necessary education to become self-sustainable. To provide the knowledge and experience to provide healthy foods to families for generations to come.

What effort have you made to test out your new idea?

We have spent the last three years organizing, documenting, and filming innovative renewable energy education programs through Kahuku Renewable Energy Innovation Center and Halau Haloa, Kahuku First Wind,, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Sunetric, DOE, BYU Hawaii University, Olomana Gardens, Waimanalo Feed Supply, Windward Community College, Hawaii State Hospital, Na Kamalei pre-school, and so on. Our Kahuku Sustainability Club of twenty members has built two aquaponics systems inside the Kahuku High & Intermediate School CTE class, and we are designing worm farms and square foot gardens to expand our program. We have visited five aquaponics programs on Oahu. We partnered with Kahuku First Wind and produced the only documentary on First Wind’s installation at Kahuku. They requested a twenty year partnership with our science students. Using the PBS student news model, Hiki No, our students have been trained to produce professional content product for TV broadcast.

What is particularly noteworthy or novel about your innovation?

Our youth have amazing creative potential for impacting the social consciousness if they are given media tools and support. Our youth face current and future environmental challenges, it is only fitting that they have the opportunity to discover innovative solutions. We want to provide the resources needed to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate sustainable living. The Department of Education’s standards for the CTE units and the US Common Core Standards are integrated into each unit plan of instruction. The students will explore innovative solutions to reduce waste and protect the environment. Partnerships with renewable energy companies will be solicited to provide internships and learning opportunities for K-12 students. Programs will be offered as after school opportunities for students and the school community. Use bus or trailer to collect food waste for portable worm farm, empty beverage containers, old cell phones, small batteries, etc.

What impact do you expect your innovation will have on the problem or situation described in the previous question?

We plan to lead by example and show that there are many creative ways to leave a small footprint on our world. The “Sustainable Living through Innovation” curriculum and alignment to the standards for project-based learning activities is designed for the students to find solutions to the environmental challenges we face. The youth viewer generated video’s on sustainability will be much more impactful with the youth as it will be produced from their point of view and their voice. The students will become the experts as they participate in researching their subject, writing script and editing the educational video, the social media marketing clips and helping to create video and written content in schools that have little current content in traditional text books on the subject of sustainability and renewable energy. Students create the content and learn as they go. Our motto: Innovate More, Depend Less.

What other community partners will you need if your innovation is to scale beyond your organization?

Sunetric, Kahuku First Wind, Hawaii Military Sustainability Command, ‘Olelo, FEMA, H-5, UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, DBEDT, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Blue Planet Foundation, Oahu Urban Garden Center, Home Depot, Lowes, Re-Use Hawaii,, Kahuku Film Club,, USDA, Sopogy, Community-Supported Agriculture, Malama Pupukea-Waialua, caretakers on Ko’olauloa fish ponds, Michelle Obama’s, etc. Advertize their support on car wraps on our model homes and aquaponics systems. Provide interns and researchers for renewable energy companies, provide digital media content for sponsors. National Task Force on S.T.E.M. Education in Washington, DC. The alignment to the Hawaii Content & Performance Standards (HCPS III) and the US Common Core Standards is currently underway for S.T.E.M. education in Hawaii. A DOE task force has convened and is working to provide the aligned framework as part of the Race to The Top initiative.

Why are your organization, partners, and key personnel suited to take on this project?

Our organization is uniquely suited help foster ideas for solutions as we continuously develop new, innovative and practical methods of becoming more sustainable. We can’t afford to stand idlely by, continue to blame others or do nothing. Our keiki deserve more and our kupuna expect more of us. We all agree that our communities deserve a higher quality of life by encouraging healthier and more sustainable living environment. We need to discourage children from eating unhealthy fast food. If we do nothing to prevent this, then we can expect more than half of Hawaii’s youth to become obese and suffer from multiple yet preventable chronic conditions such as diabetes which will result in expensive and unsustainable health care costs. We agree that are growing too dependent on imported food not realizing that even a small disaster could severely challenge our way of life since only 5% of our food is grown on our islands and our oceans and beaches are continually being filled with trash.

  • Create success value and sustainability films for K-12 students
  • Provide advanced film and television training
  • Create master teachers video library
  • Create digital media internships
  • Offer graphics and animation training
  • Teach and provide digital marketing
  • Provide digital business training and life skills
  • Provide innovative learning using a camera
  • Create virtual classroom and distance education
  • Provide OB development in digital media, film and television for those living in Ko’olauloa
  • Provide consulting services for innovative education
  • Provide training to existing schools (charter, public and private)