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Citizen Scientists In The Making During COVID-19

New Zealand children are invited to bust boredom and become citizen scientists, observing and collecting important information about their environment in their own backyards.

Ngā Kaitiaki has collated and adapted fun science projects and activities for the COVID-19 environment, giving children something fun and educational to do in their current location, no matter where they live. Project topics include clouds, litter, earthworms, garden birds, stars and ants, along with a scavenger hunt and a trash bot project.

Ngā Kaitiaki is a project team of organisations which are combining skills to create products and tools that promote environmental action at a community level.

Amber Taylor, co-founder/CEO of ARA Journeys which is part of Ngā Kaitiaki, says, “New types of complex environmental problems require a deeper understanding and hence a new approach to education”.

“There’s never been a better time for us to slow down and become more aware of what’s around us,” says Dr Isaac Warbrick, ARA Journeys co-founder/COO. “We’re looking to build a community of citizen scientists that help monitor climate, environment and sustainability in their own communities.

“Observations and photos of clouds, especially when timed, provide useful ‘ground truth’ information that satellites can’t detect. By identifying different worms in their backyard, people can contribute to The Great Kiwi Earthworm Survey, run by Ag Research - worms being key to soil fertility.”

Ngā Kaitiaki are building a digital platform for citizen scientists as finalists of Callaghan Innovation’s C-Prize environmental innovation challenge.

“Activities like this help people engage with STEAM and data collection methods in a way that’s relatable, and even in their own backyards,” says Zoe Timbrell, OMGTech! “We are working toward a platform all people can use to upload, collate data, and engage, while continuously learning and developing their skill sets.”

“Our mission is to educate the nation through families, schools, and neighbourhoods and in doing so, change the world! Ultimately improving environmental awareness for present and future generations.”

Callaghan Innovation Energy and Environment Group Manager Richard Quin says “The lockdown has been a challenge for all of our C-Prize finalist teams but it has been heartening to see how they have all taken that challenge in their stride and embraced new ways of working.

“The way in which Ngā Kaitiaki have used the opportunity to validate their concept by offering educational at-home activities when many families really needed them, is a great example of the resilience and creativity we have seen across the board.”

The Ngā Kaitiaki team are offering prizes for imagination, creativity, ability to follow instructions and scientific findings. 

Visit with ARA Kids webpage for more information.

© Scoop Media

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