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National Science Week

Great Barrier Reef Citizen Science Event

In 2021, the Centre secured external grant funding to support its National Science Week activities. This funding enabled the Centre to supercharge the scale and variety of National Science Week events including the Great Barrier Reef Citizen Science Challenge. The event was a huge success with several other activities to support the Citizen Science Challenge event and showcase the Centre’s ongoing work on preserving the Great Barrier Reef with AIMS and other industry partners.

Highlights from ACEMS National Science Week Initiative
Celebrating the Great Barrier Reef, Research, & Citizen Science with Collaborators including AIMS, ReefTeach and Calypso Productions

ACEMS Stakeholder Engagement Officer secured National Science Week grant funding and collaborators (AIMS, Reef Teach, Calypso Productions, Office of Queensland Chief Scientist, State Library of Queensland) for a National Science Week initiative celebrating the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem, research – including with AIMS – and citizen science.

ACEMS hosted a launch event on the eve of National Science Week, which featured sixteen “reef-loving” guest speakers - including three AIMS research collaborators, ReefTeach master reef guide, marine scientist-filmmaker from Calypso Productions, and a conservation law professor. Watch videos from the launch event, featuring guest speakers.

ACEMS supported the Great Barrier Reef Legacy’s work to create a new promotional video celebrating the success and impact of ACEMS collaborative Virtual Reef Diver project. The video includes our researchers, plus Stakeholder Engagement Officer celebrating its educational benefits. The video is featured on the Virtual Reef Diver website and was shown at the launch event below.

The launch also promoted the National Science Week “Virtual Reef Diver” citizen science challenge with prizes. First prize comprised “the ultimate citizen science holiday adventure” to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, hosted by Reef Teach master reef guides, for tours and research, and collaboration with filmmaker Calypso productions to create a film. Team prizes included MathsCraft, Wondrous Worlds, amongst others. The challenge attracted participants of all ages (primary school to retirees) across multiple states.

Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs, the Hon. Meaghan Scanlon MP, visited ACEMS to help promote the citizen science challenge. She toured a showcase at QUT’s iconic Cube, featuring highlights of ACEMS-AIMS research and the National Science Week citizen science Challenge, and spoke with ACEMS members/researchers.

Ministerial visit by Minister Scanlan (pictured front second from right)

The ACEMS initiative was supported by social media and also attracted media attention. ACEMS Stakeholder Engagement Officer Angela Dahlke and CI Kerrie Mengersen both appeared on radio during National Science Week to promote the Great Barrier Reef “Virtual Reef Diver” challenge, citizen science and research. Radio National, hosted by Patricia Karvelas, featured a segment titled “It's National Science Week, and what better way of celebrating than doing a virtual deep dive of the Great Barrier Reef?” From this media, a startup company awarded funding to help address a threat to the Great Barrier Reef, contacted ACEMS and attended a briefing with Kerrie Mengersen and Angela Dahlke.

The citizen science challenge was a success, with 55,000+ citizen science classification contributions (from hundreds of members of the public, across the country). This work improves our observational data (and, in turn, our models and predictions of reef coral cover and health). Additionally, it supports research to improve trust in citizen science data for conservation. Read more in this newsletter.

Queensland Chief Scientist and mathematician-conservationist Hugh Possingham was the VIP guest speaker and award presenter at an award ceremony for the citizen science challenge participants and prize winners.

The first prize individual winner was a Year 9 state high school student, Teleah McGrigor. In her acceptance speech, Teleah said she’d felt more empowered that she could make a positive contribution for the Great Barrier Reef via this challenge.

The winning team - a class from St Patrick’s College Townsville - created a thank you message that was played at the celebratory event. Their science teacher Ms Whiting said “We are very excited to have placed 1st in this challenge and the activity was incredibly beneficial for my class. The girls will be attending Orpheus Island in Term 4 where one of the activities is identifying corals and marine life as part of practising data collection and analysis." "...empowering youth and enabling citizen scientists is a critical tool in the future of the Great Barrier Reef.”

A special “Reef Today” Film – celebrating the Virtual Reef Diver Citizen Science Winner - Teleah - and her ultimate Citizen Science adventure holiday to the Great Barrier Reef (with her mum) was produced by marine-scientist filmmaker Stuart Ireland from Calypso Productions. It was shown at the ACEMS Retreat, and can be used to promote future initiatives ACEMS’ researchers hope to continue, building on the success of this one.