TeachWild Ventures to New South Wales for Sea Week
With marine debris affecting more than 270 species of animals worldwide, there is no time more important than now to stop, reflect, and educate our students on this impact. Earthwatch Australia's program TeachWild brings scientists together with teachers, students, and businesses to carry out hands-on field work.
The data collected contributes to a national marine debris database highlighting the extent of marine debris within Australia and provides information required to improve waste management and protection of our marine life.
During the week, Geraldine Davis, TeachWild's program manager, traveled to New South Wales to work with schools and local councils.
The team started north of Newcastle, and the first stop was Bob's Farm Primary School. Students learned about the significant issue of marine debris within Australia, as well as how to conduct a marine debris survey and input this information into the national database. The school is situated between Anna Bay and Port Stephens, so the students were really engaged in an issue that is relevant to their local area.
Mercy College students identify the lifecycle of ocean-going plastics.
The team traveled south and visited Melrose Park Primary School, which is located near the Parramatta River. Students were aware of debris that had collected in the mangroves on the river and its impact on the whole catchment. One primary school student said, "My favorite part of the TeachWild day was that I felt like a real scientist and that it felt like I participated in a global problem."
In the Willoughby region of Sydney, Year 11 students from Mercy College participated in the program along with two staff from Willoughby Council. Both Willoughby and Manly Councils are now exploring ways of integrating the national marine debris survey into their waste education programs.
Ms. Davis said, "What makes the TeachWild program unique is the opportunity for students to engage in real science on a current scientific program. Students are collecting data on marine debris which will contribute to research currently carried out by CSIRO [Australia's government scientific research organization and a partner in TeachWild]. To date, over 5,200 students from across Australia have participated in TeachWild activities. Participating in these activities for Earthwatch Australia and seeing the engagement from students gives me a real sense that what we are doing is having genuine impact on future generations."