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Students provide comprehensive record of the reef

Students provide comprehensive record of the reef


A new data repository has been launched that provides open access to in-depth environmental data collected as a result of education activities conducted on the Great Barrier Reef. Together with our partners we’re compiling a comprehensive record of the reef that researchers and regulatory agencies can use to monitor changes, and that anyone can use to learn more about this wonder of the natural world.

In this article we take a behind-the-scenes look at a group of Australian science students and their teachers who have created an innovative solution to big data management thanks to data infrastructure provided through TERN.

Every year over 2,500 students from 60 institutions visit The University of Queensland (UQ) Heron Island Research Station (HIRS) to conduct field coursework on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Live Learning Library holds open-access data on the Great Barrier Reef that researchers and regulatory agencies can use to monitor changes, and that anyone can use to learn more about the reef

Click here to access the Live Learning Library

Repeat visits with new groups of students conducting the same activities mean that vast amounts of standardised data tracking changes to the reef are accumulated every year. However, until now, once students completed their assignments the data were lost.

UQ’s Dr. Clint Chapman and Dr. Elizabeth Perkins recognised the opportunity to compile unique long-term datasets on the reef and help students get involved in data collection that has tangible, real-world outcomes.

"We took this premise to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation who loved the idea and helped foster a partnership with Boeing to make our ideas reality,” says Clint.  “We then partnered with TERN to build a repository that would house the data and make it publically discoverable.”

“Together, we’ve created the Live Learning Library, an open-source data repository that holds a comprehensive record of the environmental data collected as a result of educational activities conducted at the research station.”

Launched in August 2017, the Live Learning Library stores the data generated by the Live Learning Program (LLP), a set of field-based activities for secondary and tertiary education groups that is forming long-term datasets and enhancing the student learning experience.

“Activities are aligned with secondary school marine science syllabi and include a variety of sampling, monitoring and collection exercises designed to develop field and laboratory skills in students”, says Heron Island’s Education Officer Lauren Bailey.

“The students really love the fact that they’re able to play a role beyond that of just collecting data for assignments,” says Lauren. “The opportunity to contribute data to a repository that is utilised by researchers and management bodies in making real-world decisions allows the process of data collection to be much more meaningful and relevant to students. This in turn enhances their learning experiences at HIRS.”

“We’re creating a comprehensive record of the reef that anyone can access; researchers and regulatory agencies for the monitoring of changes, secondary and tertiary education students for use in their assessments, anyone anywhere in the world to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef.”

The Live Learning Library stores the data generated by The University of Queensland Heron Island Research Station's Live Learning Program, a set of field-based activities for secondary and tertiary education groups (above) that is forming long-term datasets and enhancing the student learning experience (all images courtesy of Chris Roelfsema)
 

Click here or on the image above to access the Live Learning Library

 

 

 

Published in TERN newsletter October 2017