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Kepnock students Eco Challenge champions

Kepnock Eco Challenge
Kepnock State High School’s Reef Warriors Zander, B-Jay and Cassius.

Kepnock State High School students have taken out the top spot in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s 2022 Eco Challenge for their All-in-one Reef Monitoring System (ARMS).

The annual eco challenge aims to develop eco-entrepreneurship, inquiry learning, real-world problem solving, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) innovation.

Announcing the winners, Reef Authority Chief Scientist Dr David Wachenfeld said the competition highlighted the valuable impact the next generation of eco-thinkers will have on the future of the Reef.

“I’d like to congratulate the Kepnock High School team for developing this great system, which has practical real-world applications,” he said.

“It shows what can be achieved when young people work together to develop smart eco-friendly ideas that could help protect the Reef and their environment into the future.”

The winning design uses high-definition cameras and temperature monitoring systems to capture real-time data of the reef.

It can be winched to varying depths to collect a range of data and stay protected from storms.

Batteries are charged from solar panels on buoys, and there’s also a tank of vinegar and a needle to inject any crown-of-thorn starfish who get a little too close.

The team behind it call themselves the Reef Warriors.

B-Jay, Zander and Cassius believe the reef is filled with a wide array of living organisms whose homes are at risk from climate change.

“The reef is one of the most unique and diverse natural wonders of the world,” Zander said.

“It’s important to protect such wonders for the future generations to experience and enjoy,” B-Jay added.

“The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder and heritage listed in our local area and it’s important to protect and promote the Reef to make sure it is preserved as an ecosystem,” Cassius said.

Teacher Nicole Amey said teams researched their region of the reef looking for how they could become solution focused.

“They looked at how this could then be used to assist the health of the reef, and then how this could be transferred across the full length of the reef,” Ms. Amey said.

Eco Challenge organiser, Assistant Director Reef Education, Holly Lambert said she was impressed with the calibre of entries.

“Judging by the entries we received the future of innovation in Australia around protecting our environment, and in particular the Great Barrier Reef, is in good hands,” Ms. Lambert said.

The Eco Challenge encourages students to explore current and future issues facing the Great Barrier Reef and its connected ecosystems, and to work together to develop an eco-friendly idea that could help protect the reef for future generations.

The challenge attracted entries from primary and secondary schools across the state, from Cairns in the far north, to the Gold Coast in the southeast corner.

The overall winners receive a school Solar Buddy Class Pack, their own virtual learning experience, and a Reef Authority prize pack.

The regional winners will also receive a virtual learning experience and a Reef Authority prize pack.