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Students take beach litter audit,Citizen scientists from Campion clean up Waipaoa river mouth

The rise of citizen scientists has meant more people are getting out and about to help collect data for the future wellbeing of our earth. Citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research to power change.

This week the Environment page focuses on a group of citizen scientists from Campion College, and highlights another backyard project that needs to be powered by the people next month.

A GROUP of Campion College students have become citizen scientists for the Gisborne area.

Every season, at the exact same spot, a group of Campion College students head down to the beach for an audit of litter in that area.

They section off a specific area of sand at the high tide mark and collect matter that should not be on a beach.

Previous audits have uncovered common litter items like cigarette butts, bits of rope, plastic and the odd shoe.

Data is then uploaded online to join all the other beach audits from around the country — and world.

The two places audited every few months are the Waipaoa river mouth at the far end of Midway Beach and at the Pipe along Midway Beach.

The Waipaoa River mouth is a particular hot spot for litter because of its isolation and the wash down from the hills and into the river — like cow tags.

Campion College students Georgia Jobson and Jorja McKinlay help run the project with five other students.

After they have collected the litter, the samples are brought back to school, where they are analysed and then the data is loaded onto a spreadsheet and posted to www.litterintellignce.com.

Georgia does the health and safety and makes sure the team of students wear gloves and high vis jackets.

It’s great to be involved in such a cool project, she said.

“I love the beach and want future generations to be able to enjoy it too.”

As well as their beach audit, which is always in the exact same spot, the students also collect litter from the wider vicinity while they are at the beach, said Georgia.

Jorja manages the technical side of the project with an application they use from the Litter Intelligence website.

“I think we need to save the coast and help save it for future generations,” she said.

Campion College teacher Jonathan McDonald said the project was part of the wider Sustainable Coastlines, which runs the website www.litterintelligence.org as part of citizen science and education programme.

The project encourages data collection, which then leads to insights into the litter problem, which then leads to action on how to tackle it, he said.

“The philosophy behind it is you need data to back up what you are saying.

“Regions can show insights from data, for example which regions have the most food wrappers on their shores.”

Mr McDonald said his students had come up with small but specific actions.

“And now they have studied media so they know how to influence as well.”

It is the fourth audit the citizen scientists from Campion have done, and they will continue.

The students are also in the process of creating a wearable art piece — one side of the dress will be made of paper and the other side from plastic. They have promised to keep the Gisborne Herald updated, and a future Environment page will feature the finished item.

SAVING THE COAST ONE PIECE AT A TIME: Citizen scientists from Campion College carry out their fourth audit of a section of beach down by the Waipaoa river mouth to collect data about the litter left there. From left are Campion College teacher Jonathan McDonald with students Georgia Jobson, Jorja McKinlay, Izan Duckworth, Pearl Ruston, Jess Bailie, Rhys Grogan and Daniel Bailie. Picture by Liam Clayton