July 4, Halifax: Zodiacs, Partners and Youth Citizen Science

By: Diz Glithero

What happens when you fuse two amazing science education organizations, 50+ youth and the Canada C3 science and education team for a day of exploring on the ocean in Halifax?  Some serious fun and learning!

On Tuesday, July 4, SuperNOVA’s summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) camp team — Actua’s network member program at Dalhousie University — brought 50+ campers down to the Canada C3 ship.  Joining the fun was oceanographer Boris Worm from Dalhousie University’s Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), a leading partner of the Canada C3 science program, and OFI Ocean School’s Science Education Lead, Sonya Lee.

Myself together with Tracy Ross, a Journey Participant on board Leg 4 of Canada C3 representing Actua, shared with campers the Canada C3 journey goals, route, key themes and objectives through hands on learning using two giant (17×13’) Canada C3 floor maps. Campers also had a chance to hear from Leg 4 Canada C3 Youth Ambassadors — James Infante, Esete Woldemariam and Pravakar Thapa — about the importance of youth leadership and civic engagement.  Then all were off to explore the Canada C3 ship!

After lunch, nine Ocean Sciences SuperNOVA campers (grades 5/6), together with above scientists, Youth Ambassadors and C3 crew, including Leg 4 Chief Scientist Mike Wong and Canadian Museum of Nature scientist Jennifer Doubt, headed out in the zodiacs on a citizen science mission in the Halifax harbour. Working alongside these scientists and educators, campers participated in three specific activities including: 1) a macroplastics shoreline clean up (led by Boris) at Pleasant Park contributing data to Ocean Conservancy’s international coastal clean up efforts; 2) sand sampling to analyze for microplastics along Canada’s coastline to assist in a project by Peter Ross at the Vancouver Aquarium; and 3) collecting and pressing plants (led by Jennifer) as a contribution to the Canadian Natural Herbarium.

Youth-adult learning experiences such as these contribute to fostering a better understanding of and appreciation for science. They help towards building more personal connections with the natural world and our inextricable link to it as humans. Furthermore, such learning experiences help to engender a sense of agency in today’s youth, as contributing to such participatory action research connects youth to something bigger — the building and mobilizing of knowledge that will hopefully lead to a more sustainable future.

Diz Glithero serves as the Education Team Lead for Canada C3 and is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa.