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Students clean up Mangere using math and data visualisation

Koru School students clean up Mangere using mathematics and data visualisation

October 2016

Sustainable Coastlines and students from Koru School in Mangere are kicking off an innovative maths project this month, funded through the Participatory Science Platform, South Auckland pilot; known locally as SouthSci.

Working with scientists from Te Pūnaha Matatini, Sustainable Coastlines have designed a project with the students of Koru school to analyse the huge dataset they have from beach clean-ups in the area.

SouthSci Project Manager, Dr Sarah Morgan explains “this is the first ever PSP project we’ve seen focussing on Maths, and in particular data visualisation. The collaboration between Sustainable Coastlines and Te Pūnaha Matatini, a Centre of Research Excellence based at the University of Auckland, means a powerhouse of talent is working alongside these Mangere kids to answer questions they have about litter in their environment.”

The students of Koru school will be heading down the road to Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae for a series of workshops through October and November, looking at data analysis and how it can be displayed or interpreted to get the messages within it across to the community.

Fletcher Sunde, the project lead from Sustainable Coastlines says “these students are working to pull relevant observations out of the huge data set we have, to tell us more about people’s littering habits.”

An online map built by Te Pūnaha Matatini allows students to visualise what they have achieved during their coastal clean-up, as well as link the rubbish they collected on beaches to likely sources around their community. “This adds value to the students’ work and enables them to approach policymakers armed not only with data but also with a real understanding of what causes the build-up of rubbish on their local beaches," says Professor Shaun Hendy, Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini.

At the end of the project, on the 11th November, the students will be holding a policy-makers’ hui, to discuss their findings and what they might mean for city planning and environmental sustainability.

ENDS

This Participatory Science Platform is currently being piloted in three areas: South Auckland, Taranaki and Otago. It is an initiative under A Nation of Curious Minds, a Government programme to encourage all New Zealanders to get involved with science and technology.

A Nation of Curious Minds is coordinated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education, and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. For more information, visit www.curiousminds.nz.


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