Scientists in Schools

Beyond the classroom

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  • Andrew Hislop, Tagai State College, Thursday Island, QLD
  • Jane Mellors, Queensland Fisheries

Over the past three years, Jane and Year 11 and 12 Tagai State College students have monitored seagrass habitats around Thursday Island. After initial training in the prescribed methodologies of the regional management agency, the Torres Strait Regional Authority, students monitored four sites, volunteering up to three hours a day over four days on a quarterly basis. On some days, they started at 5:30am!

What motivates these students to start at such an early hour and enter the collected data during their lunchtime? Their passion and enthusiasm generated by understanding the importance of seagrass meadows to the health and cultural wellbeing of their local Torres Strait Islander community.

Measuring seagrass

Jane presenting

Jane reflects on the change in the students, "Prior to the training day the students described the seagrass as 'that green stuff out on the mudflats'. By the end of the year they're telling everyone how it is dungog and turtle food plus it's an important nursery for fisheries and acts as a filter for land based pollutants."
"Seagrass is important, especially for us in the Torres Strait who depend on the sea for our food," commented one student. Students' understanding ensures data integrity during their monitoring. Confidence in the data is reflected by its inclusion in the Queensland State of the Environment reporting.

 

To promote their project in the wider community, the Tagai College students named themselves Meskep Kabuzig (Intertidal Warriors) and designed a logo for their promotional materials. As part of their promotion, four students accompanied Jane to deliver a presentation to junior school students in Iama and run activities relating to their seagrass habitat project.
Jane finds her partnership rewarding, "It is great to be able to contribute to the future and to be in touch with the youth of today. To hear what they think and feel is important to them is such a grounding experience."

Turtle mask activity