By Nina Wu
It was a beautiful, sunny morning at Kalama Beach Park in Kailua.
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, along with RISE, a core program of KUPU, organized the First Annual Ultimate Sand Sifter Challenge, and invited 20 finalists out of dozens of submissions to demonstrate their models on Saturday, Nov. 15.
The winner was a two-level screen sifter designed by Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks that offered an educational message while separating out microplastics from the sand. Second place went to photographer Ken G. Kosada and third place to surfer and beach cleanup volunteer Harrison Piho. Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks plans to use the $2,500 cash prize (presented by solar company Revolusun) to enhance their educational facility and fund their island restoration projects. And, they decided to give $300 to Kosada and $200 to Piho.
As for the winner, they get another $2,500 to replicate several of their sand sifters for use by volunteer organizations.
There was creativity, ingenuity and enthusiasm, but most of all, there was one goal in common — to figure out how to get these microplastics, pieces of plastics broken down by ultraviolet rays, out of the sand and out of the ocean.
Kailua, a five-mile stretch of fine, white sand, is often named as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It's the one that President Barack Obama once jogged on in his bare feet (before he was elected president). And yet, look closely near the high tide waterline, and you will see microplastic debris in that fine, white sand.
Saturday's event was an all-family affair, with plenty of enthusiastic students. Several teams from Punahou School (aspiring engineers from 7th to 10th grade), as well as a team of fifth and sixth-graders from Ho‘ala School in Wahiawa and a student from Kamakau Charter School who created a sand sifter for extra credit, were out demonstrating with their designs.
Ho‘ala School science, math and service teacher Maggie Pulver was able to teach several lessons at once while her students — Ian Shelton, Storey Welch and Christian Ward — designed and put their sand sifter to the test.
The designs were as simple as reused tubes, bucket and jars to more elaborate, spinning bins made from recycled bicycle rims and refurbished wood pallets. They had to be human-powered, without the use of fossil fuels, and designed and built for no more than $300.
Second-place winner Ken Kosada is already tweaking his design in preparation for the 10th annual Da Hui North Shore Clean-Up this Saturday (Nov. 22) at Turtle Bay Resort.
Piho, a regular beach cleanup volunteer and avid surfer from Wahiawa, had one of my favorite designs — a double baby stroller frame plus shoe rack that he found on the sidewalk left out for bulky curbside pickup. He said his design was mobile, and that you could push it across the beach, sifting debris out of the sand. He used simple twist-ties to assemble his sand sifter together.