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Citizen Science on Canada C3

July 17, 2017

Guest blog by: Tracy Ross, Director of Network Membership at Actua

A Canada 150 Signature project, Canada C3 is a 150 expedition from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage. Tracy Ross is on board Leg 4 of Canada C3 representing Actua, Canada’s largest STEM outreach organization.  Actua provides training, resources and support to its national network of members located at universities and colleges across Canada. SuperNOVA is Actua’s network member at Dalhousie University. Canada C3’s four themes of youth engagement, environment, diversity and inclusion, and reconciliation are closely aligned with Actua’s own mission to ensure that ALL youth have the opportunity to achieve their potential through STEM.

Summer is here and Actua’s 36 network member programs across Canada have kicked off their season of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camp. For 50 Halifax youth attending SuperNOVA at Dalhousie University, camp started by visiting Canada C3 and their expedition ship, Polar Prince.

This incredibly unique and exciting visit began with an introduction to Canada C3 by Dr. Diz Glithero, the Head of Education for the project, and by exploring a giant floor map of Canada. They then got a private tour onboard the ship.

Campers got to participate in a new initiative by Canada C3’s youth ambassadors called #C3Dreams, where they invite young people to think of, and then share their dreams for their own future.

They then got to go on a scientific tour of the Halifax Harbour aboard the Canada C3 zodiacs. At their destination in Point Pleasant Park, they carried out three projects alongside the ship’s Chief Scientist Mike Wong of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), ship scientist Jennifer Doubt of the Canadian Museum of Nature, and Ocean School scientists Boris Worm and Sonya Lee. By doing so, they helped to advance three of over 20 projects the C3 science team will carry out as the voyage visits all three of Canada’s Coastlines in the course of 150 days.  The data and samples gathered here will provide one of the most extensive records of environmental data gathered in Canadian waters to date.

On their first day of camp, campers:

In each case, they were gathering information that will be added to a national or international database of information, while participating in science activities in the field.  This form of public engagement in science is often called Citizen Science.

By making the science real, showing how the knowledge is gathered together, it underlines the importance and issues facing our environment. Judging from the seriousness with which the children took on their roles for the day, the future is in good hands.

This special day was made possible by collaboration among a Canada C3 team of staff, scientists and youth ambassadors, Dalhousie University’s Ocean School, and SuperNOVA, which is Actua’s network member program in Halifax, Nova Scotia.