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College students set sail for science

Five lucky year 10 students from Bundaberg Christian College have embarked on a five-day marine research trip along the Great barrier reef.

Five lucky year 10 students from Bundaberg Christian College embarked on a five-day marine research trip along the Great Barrier Reef.

The college was one of six Queensland schools selected to participate.

The students left Monday afternoon (10 August) from the Port of Bundaberg as part of the Science Under Sail program.

They were able to experience the life of a marine researcher onboard a sailing vessel, as they help collected data that will be used to manage marine resources.

Coordinator Amanda Kelk said this was the second year the school had taken part in the Science Under Sails program.

“This program provides a unique opportunity for students to participate in citizen science data collection under the supervision of professional researchers,” Amanda said.

“They go out for five days on the boat and are taught how to collect samples of sea grass and monitor all the different types of seagrass, which then helps monitor the health of the reef.

“It’s done all the way up the coast with other schools and is part of a much bigger project teaching students how to do authentic data collection.”

Students learn how to use scientific equipment as part of the Science Under Sail program.  

The crew sailed to the mid and outer reefs of the Capricornia Bunker and collected data as part of an extended experimental investigation.

Director of Science under Sails, Nicola Udy, said students learn how to use scientific equipment and gain hands-on, real-world experience that contributes to their science studies and understanding.

“We’ll be trying to find where sea grass is growing and not growing, where coral is or not, and even if it’s just bare sand, recording that is important to understanding what’s on our sea floor,” Nicole said.

“We use a camera on a sled, which is towed behind the boat and skids along the bottom and records what’s on the bottom and we get a live feed up to the boat.

“At night when everyone’s quiet on the boat, we download all the videos and analyse those videos to see what’s there and then we record the types of sea grass, density of sea grass, and if there’s anything on the bottom, like sea stars.”

Year 10 student Scott Black said he looked forward to spending time on the boat and hoped it would further his career prospects in marine biology.

“We’re away for around six days and we’re camping on Lady Musgrave for two nights, and then going up to Pancake Creek for two nights and will be snorkelling and surveying sea grass,” he said.

“Something I’m looking forward to is going and snorkelling and spending time out on the boat and from an educational perspective I hope to broaden my knowledge on sea grass and sea life and just marine life in general.”

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