Fossils – What are They and Who Finds Them?

Hey kids, Kalea here!  Have you ever wondered about fossils and where they come from?  Let’s grab our gear and discover more about fossils and who finds them.

Who are paleontologists?
Paleontologists are people who study the history of life. They use fossils (like dinosaur bones) to discover the identity of the fossil and where it came from. Using fossils, paleontologists can tell us the history of the Earth. They also use a combination of geology (study of rocks) and biology (study of life) to help them understand the past.

Children are learning history dinosaur

How did paleontology start?
Humans around the world have been fascinated with fossils for a very long time. People from China used to call dinosaurs “magical dragons”.  Throughout history, fossilized bones were often ground up and used as medicine.  China and Ancient Greece were the two countries who made the earliest attempts of using fossils in a scientific way.

In the 1800s, Charles Marsh and Edward Cope spiked interest in geology and paleontology. They were responsible for discovering 142 species of dinosaurs. Their efforts in discovering dinosaur fossils were funded by their own wealth and eventually led to a personal feud to see who could discover more bones. They discovered the Morrison Formation which holds more dinosaur bones from the Jurassic period than any other formation in North America.

Dinosaur fossil still embedded in ground with head raised

What are Fossils?
There are two main types of fossils — body fossils and trace fossils.  Body fossils consist of preserved remains of a plant or animal’s body, while trace fossils are the remains of the activity of an animal.  In order for these remnants to be considered a fossil, they need to be over 10,000 years old!


AmmoniteMold fossils are another type of fossil. These fossils are made when an animal or plant makes an impression or mark in either dirt, sand, or mud. TTheir bodies are then covered by another layer of dirt, sand, or mud and over time the mud and sand harden into rock, preserving the impression of the body. Over time, if the mold become filled, then the mold becomes a cast fossil.

How old are fossils?
Currently, it’s very hard to determine the age of a fossil because there aren’t any scientific tests for it. Instead, scientists test the age of the rocks where the fossil was found to determine the age of the fossil itself.  Scientists also use what’s called relative dating or stratigraphy. Stratigraphy works by studying the layers of rocks.  For example, older rock layers are closer to the bottom and newer layers towards the top. If you are able to find the right layer of an igneous rock (volcanic rocks made from cooling lava), you can use this to determine the exact date of that rock layer.


little boy wants to be an archaeologist


Make your own fossil!
Now that you’ve learned about fossils, why not make your own!  Be sure to ask a parent to help you with this activity and always remember, safety first!



What you’ll need:

  • Modeling Clay
  • 2 paper cups
  • An object you would like to make a fossilized impression
  • Plaster of paris
  • Water



  1. Flatten a ball of modeling clay until it is 1 inch thick. Be sure that the top is smooth.
  2. Put the modeling clay inside a paper cup with the smooth side facing up. Carefully press the object you want to fossilize into the modeling clay until it’s partially buried.
  3. Carefully remove the object from the modeling clay. An impression of the object should be left behind.
  4. Pour half a cup of plaster of paris into the other paper cup. Add a quarter cup of water to the plaster and stir until it’s smooth. Leave it to rest for 2 minutes.
  5. When the mixture has thickened, pour it on top of the modeling clay in your other cup. Allow the plaster to fully dry. (About 24 hrs.)
  6. When the plaster is fully set tear away the sides of the paper cup and take out the modeling clay and plaster of paris. You should have your very own fossil!

Be sure to tag us @hificu on our social media accounts so we can see your creations!


Fall Flavor — Pumpkin Spice

Yoko here.  Happy Fall, everyone!

We may not have all four seasons here in Hawaii, bu there’s no mistaking the start of autumn.  The air gets cooler, the days get shorter, and best of all—pumpkin spice is back!

Pumpkin pie spice, or pumpkin spice for short, is hands-down THE flavor of the season.  Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin spice actually doesn’t have any pumpkin in it at all.  It’s really just a mixture of the spices that are used in making pumpkin pie.

Nowadays, pumpkin spice isn’t just for making pies.  You can use these spices in just about anything you want—cookies, bread, oatmeal, or even to season your Thanksgiving dinner.  My favorite pumpkin spice item is probably the most popular item that kick-started the pumpkin spice craze—pumpkin spiced lattes!

Buying a $5 drink here and there can really take a toll on my wallet, though.  Thankfully, you can buy ready-made pumpkin spice mix from the spice section of your local grocery store.  Better yet, pumpkin spice is so easy to make, you probably already have the ingredients you need in your kitchen!

You don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy the flavors of the fall.  Here are the ingredients and simple instructions to make your own Pumpkin Spice!

Organic Raw Pumpkin Spice

Ground Cinnamon – 3 Tablespoons
Ground Ginger – 2 teaspoons
Ground Nutmeg – 2 teaspoons
Ground Allspice – 1½ teaspoons
Ground Cloves – 1½ teaspoons


1.  Pour spices into a bowl
2.  Mix until thoroughly combined
3.  Store in a jar or spice container
4.  Enjoy all season long!


How to Make Your Own Turtle Slime

Hey kids, Kalea here again!

Colorful of Homemade Toy Called Slime, Kids having fun and being creative by science experiment.Today, I’m going to take you through the steps to make your very own Turtle Slime! Although turtles like me don’t really have slime, this is one of my favorite things to make. The best part—it’s green just like me! Remember to always have adult supervision while doing this experiment, and be safe.


Here are the materials you will need:

  • ½ teaspoons of Borax (found in the laundry detergent section)
  • 1½ cups of warm water
  • 5 oz. bottle of clear school glue
  • 2 drops Green food coloring
  • 5 drops of Yellow food coloring


  1. Mix 1 cup of warm water with ½ teaspoon of Borax in a bowl until dissolved
  2. In a separate container, mix together:
    1. ½ cup of water
    2. Entire 5 oz. bottle of clear school glue
    3. Stir in 2 drops of green food coloring
    4. Stir in 5 drops of yellow food coloring
    5. Mix till combined
  3. Pour the Borax mixture into the glue mixture and mix until combined. This should create gooey green slime.

TIP: To keep your slime from drying out, be sure to store it in an air-tight container.

Mars, the Red Planet

YKstargazingHey, everyone.  It’s me, Yoko!

A few weekends ago, Kalea and I decided to go stargazing.  As I was admiring the night sky, Kalea suddenly grabbed my attention when he pointed at this HUGE red glowing dot.

“Look, Yoko!  That star is so bright!  And it’s red…just like you!” he said excitedly.

“My silly Kalea,” I couldn’t help but giggle, “that’s not a star.  That’s Mars!”

If you’ve looked up at the night sky lately, you may have seen it too.  Did you know that this is the first time in 15 years that Mars has come this close to Earth?  It’s not expected to get this close again for another 269 years!

If you haven’t had a chance to see Mars yet, don’t worry.  I hear that Mars will continue to shine bright throughout August into September, and you’ll still be able to see it, even without a telescope.

In the meantime, here are some fun Mars facts to share with your friends:

3D rendering planet Mars landscape

  • Mars is about half the size of Earth.  Mars has a diameter of 4,220 miles; smaller than Earth’s 7,926-mile diameter
  • You would think that because Mars is smaller, its years must be shorter too—but that is not the case! One Earth year lasts 365 days, and one Mars year lasts 687 days
  • Mars gets its red color from its dirt. Its rusty red color comes from the iron oxide dust that blankets the whole planet. (Fun fact: iron oxide is just a fancy word for rust!)
  • Mars is home to Olympia Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system at 15 miles high, as well as Valles Marineris, the longest canyon in the solar system, stretching 2,500 miles long and 4 miles deep.

So, the next time you think you see a big red star in the sky, just remember—it might not be a star after all, rather, our neighbor planet Mars!

Turtles in Space!


Hi There, Kalea here!

I’ve always been fascinated with outer space.  When Yoko told me that those little lights in the nighttime sky were actually far-away planets and suns, it captured my imagination and made me want to know more.  I read as much as I could about rocket ships, space shuttles and famous astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.  What amazing things they did!

But did you know that before men landed on the moon in 1969, two turtles had already been around the moon and back?  It’s true!

On September 15, 1968, a Russian spacecraft called ‘Zond 5’ took off into outer space with two turtles aboard.  It was the very first flight to ever carry live animals into deep space.  The space ship made a loop around the moon and safely returned to Earth five days later, splashing down in the Indian Ocean.  The turtles were fine but had lost a little weight while in space.  Also, they were really hungry when they returned!

And there were even more turtle astronauts!  In 1975, two turtles aboard a ship called the ‘Soyuz 20’ traveled in Earth’s orbit for 90 days, setting a record for the longest amount of time ANY animal has spent in space.

In 2010, more turtles blasted off into outer space—this time with a rat and a bunch of worms  aboard!

As recently as last year, a turtle astronaut by the name of ‘Little Cloud’ soared 13 miles above the Earth in a test craft that was part space ship and part balloon.  Space is cold and does not have breathable air, but don’t worry, Little Cloud was quite comfortable during his journey into space.  The oxygen levels, air pressure, and temperature in his capsule were all remotely controlled by scientists here on Earth.

In case you’re wondering, all the animals returned safely from their space adventures, and their brave missions helped scientists to better understand how space travel can affect human beings.

It made me so proud to know that turtles have made it all the way into outer space.  It’s incredible!  And who knows?  Maybe even one day, I’ll make it up there.  It’s my reminder to keep reaching for the stars!

National Water Quality Month

Hey, there!  It’s me, Kalea!

Did you know that August is National Water Quality Month?  This month, we are reminded of the importance of water conservation and protecting our water sources.

Water is not just important to honus like me, but to all living things on this planet, including you!  Unfortunately, not everyone has access to fresh water, and in some places, fresh water sources are depleting.  This is why learning about water conservation and quality is so important.

Lucky we live Hawaii—did you know that our volcanoes are a major factor in why we have access to fresh, clean water?  Beneath our islands are large slabs of volcanic rock.  These rocks, called aquifers, act as filters that naturally help to purify groundwater.

Here especially on Oahu, we have huge aquifers just underneath Pearl Harbor.  The process of a single rain drop making its way down into the ground and flowing through an extensive maze of volcanic rock that is the aquifer can take years!  It sounds like a lot of work and a long time for just a single drop of water, but don’t worry—an average of two BILLION gallons of water can fall on Oahu in a day!

As water is continuously flowing and collecting within the aquifer, sometimes fresh water can break through in the form of a spring.  Today, we have access to this fresh, purified water thanks to wells and tunnels.

The way that our island purifies water is very special, which is why it’s so important for us to conserve.  Our water is safe enough to drink straight from the tap, a luxury that many places around the world does not have.  Some places go through great measures just to get clean, safe drinking water.

Now that you know how we get our fresh water, here are some easy things you can do at home to make sure our fresh water can continue on for generations:

Grandmother and granddaughter washing utensil in kitchen sink

Turn the Tap Off
Whether you’re brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, if you don’t need to use the water right then and there, turn the tap off!  The water doesn’t need to run while you’re brushing your teeth or scrubbing the dishes.  Turning the water back on just when you’re ready to rinse can save you from wasting water.

child watering a tree

Water Your Plants
Watering your plants is a great way to recycle water that you aren’t using or don’t need.  Say you need to clean out your fish tank.  Instead of dumping your fish tank water down a drain, water your plants!  Fish tank water is full of nutrients that are good for plants.

Is it time for your dog to have a bath?  Bathe your pets outdoors on your lawn.  Not only is your pet getting clean, but your lawn is getting watered at the same time!

Cleaning up after a party and looking for a place to dump your excess ice from the cooler?  You can dump your ice near your plants to help water them.

baby boy taking a bath

Take Showers Instead of Baths
Did you know that a full bathtub can hold up to 70 gallons of water?  That’s a lot!  If you don’t need to take a bubble bath, take a shower instead.  You can still get clean, and in a shorter amount of time too.


 Mother And Daughter Loading DishwasherConsolidate
Only wash full loads of laundry, and don’t run a dishwasher unless it’s full.  The less loads you have to do, the less water you will have to use.

Conserving water is so easy to do, you might already be doing these things yourself at home.  There are so many other ways to save water.  What else can you do to promote water conservation?


Halloween on a Budget

I smell some chocolate

Hi, Yoko and Kalea here!

With Halloween quickly approaching, it’s hard to believe there are 11 days left before Halloween 2017!

Since Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, let’s make the most of the two weekends left in October before Halloween season comes to a close.

Here’s are some tips on how to celebrate Halloween on a budget:

  • For costumes try shopping at second hand or thrift stores. They’re a great place to find a costume at a fraction of the retail price. One year we went to Savers and found our 80’s costume out of all the clothes there!
  • Buy your candy right before the scary night. Most places will put their candy on sale right before Halloween.
  • Decorate your house with items that you already have! Toilet paper is always a good mummy maker. Just reuse it after! We’re just kidding! There are endless possibilities!
  • For Halloween parties, shop the sales at your local grocery store. Bake your own ghoulish cupcakes instead of buying them from the bakery, mix your own ghastly Frankenstein punch, and make your own goblin grub!

Although a lot of the Halloween items out there appeal to your nightmarish side, keep in mind that Halloween doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Shop smart and keep those dollars in your pocket for the next two expensive holidays coming soon – Thanksgiving and Christmas! Follow Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union’s  FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates, news, and more interesting articles!

2017 School Tools Drive


Hi Yoko here! This past weekend we helped out at the 2017 School Tools drive with @helpinghandshawaii (Helping Hands Hawai) at Walmart and Sam’s Club on Keeamoku Street. Supporters donated $6,035.98 and nine pallets of assorted school supplies! According to Helping Hands Hawaii, the donations will assemble approximately 2,600 basic school supply kits for the keiki in Hawaii who cannot afford them!

Thank you to everyone who came down to ensure that the Keiki of Hawaii have the supplies to start the new school year right.

2017 Easter Coloring Contest


Aloha! Kalea here to ask you to check out our Hawaiian Tell FCU 2017 Easter Coloring Contest winners! The contest was open to anyone in the community and a lot of keiki entered! There were so many beautiful colorings that Yoko and I wished we could’ve picked everyone as a winner.

Let’s say a big congratulations to the following!

6 & under category
Nevaeh Somera
Aiyana Kaneshiro
Jacob Yoshimura

7-13 years category
Linken Tanabe
Adison Rickard
Atreyu Nishimura
Levi Kaopuiki
Ashley Sofia Alfaro
Joanne D Gandule

14+ category
Alyana Nicole Alfaro
Julissa Rivera-Rey
Malisa Lo

Check out our Facebook page for their photos!

The Art of Aquaponics

Hey, everyone!  Yoko here!  As I was flying to the credit union today, I noticed that almost all the houses I passed had some sort of vegetable or fruit garden growing in their yards.  Some gardens looked different from your typical garden, and I remember Kalea telling me about them before.  He called those gardens “aquaponics”.  I couldn’t remember what else he said about them, so once I got home, I decided to do some research.  Here is what I found about aquaponics:

Aquaponics, simply put, utilizes fish waste instead of soil to grow crops.  It’s a method that has been used for centuries; evidence of these methods were found in various parts of Asia and as far as ancient Aztec civilization.  The aquaponics that we know today uses a closed system of tanks, tubes, and pumps to cultivate both fish and crops.  It doesn’t require a lot of room, and some systems can be stackable.  Whether you live in an apartment or plan to build a system in your yard, anyone can do this anywhere!  The aquaponics system sustains itself with little effort on your part.  Once your system is running and stable, all you really need to do is make sure the fish are fed regularly.


Here’s how it works:


I learned that most vegetables can grow in an aquaponics system.  Some of the easier ones to grow are salad greens, such as lettuce, spinach, and kale.  Bok choy, watercress, and even tomatoes grow well too.  This is really great because Kalea and I love eating all types of veggies!

As for fish, if you plan on cultivating fish for the dinner table, many local aquaponics growers use tilapia.  They are a sturdy fish that is raised practically all over the world, and they’re delicious too!  Other fish used around the world include trout, catfish, perch, and bass.

Not planning to eat the fish or want to utilize the fish you already have in your tank?  Goldfish, guppies, tetras, pacu, oscars, and other tropical and ornamental fish can be used in your aquaponics system too!

All of this reading up on aquaponics really makes me want to try it out for myself.  My garden will look great next to my hot tub!  Feel free to share your experiences with an aquaponics system.  Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to share some of mine too!