School kids take the sting out of climate change

Eden Marine High School students will soon take to the rock pools of Shelly's Beach as part of a new Sapphire Marine Discovery Centre initiative.
Eden Marine High School students will soon take to the rock pools of Shelly's Beach as part of a new Sapphire Marine Discovery Centre initiative.

Talk to most high school students, and they’ll tell you that most of what they learn will mean nothing once they get out into ‘the real world’.

But Eden Marine High School students will soon have the chance to conduct scientific research that will help shape Australia’s response to climate change, as part of an initiative run by the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre.

The ‘Surveying the Sea Shore’ program will see Year 9 and 10 students conduct rock pool surveys at local beaches, with their findings uploaded to the ClimateWatch Australia database.

Scientists will then use the data, detailing the different species that are present, to determine the effects of factors like climate change and rainfall patterns on the coast.

Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre marine education officer Jillian Riethmuller said the centre is already involved in running these surveys as part of the Oceans Connected program, but a $4000 grant from the REAPing Rewards Program this week has opened the door for a schools program.

“It’s an opportunity for the students to learn a bit more about their local environment, and also about marine science in general,” she said.

“They actually get the opportunity to go out and conduct the surveys themselves and contribute to research being done on climate change.

“At the moment, we’re just going to be trialling it with Eden Marine High School to see how it goes, but if it’s successful we can look at expanding it.

“We might even run some of these surveys with the students as part of Oceans Connected.”

SCMDC is one of 39 organisations across Australia to receive a grant through REAPing Rewards, which is run by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, and funded by philanthropic donors.

FRRR CEO Alexandra Gartmann says the program is all about creating educational equality.

“Giving children a strong educational foundation, irrespective of where they live, is one of the most important things we can do as a society”, Ms Gartmann said.

“Through REAPing Rewards, we are helping to make education accessible and stimulating for students in rural and remote communities,

“This program can help deliver the educational resources, experiences and individualised learning support that rural students require, but often can’t access because of their location or the organisation's funding base, so the support of our generous donors makes a very tangible difference.”

Donors include The Ian Potter Foundation, The Yulgilbar Foundation, Third Link Investment, and The Caledonia Foundation.

Ms Gartmann said $244,397 worth of grants were given across the 39 organisations, but this represented only 16 per cent of requests made by different community groups.

She appealed for anyone interested in supporting the program to contact the foundation on (03) 5430 2399.