Imagine some of the world’s best scientists congratulating your own scientific efforts, personalised tours around scientific locations and attending a National Gala Awards night.
That is what happened to three Scouts in November.
The Patrol combined their love of science, photography and Scouting to win the NASA and Scouts Australia Citizen Science Competition 2019. At the GEO Week Gala Dinner, they met and were encouraged by many eminent scientists from around the world including from Kenya, China, Argentina, Africa, Norway, the Netherlands and from NASA.
Scout Mitchell Halley, Cub Scout Samual Haley and Venturer Scout Josh Lange from the Southern Barossa Scout Group heard about the competition and decided it would be an interesting way to explore the STEM & Innovation aspect of the Special Interest Areas.
“We like the idea of being able to work with NASA and Geoscience to learn and try something different” says Mitchell. “We all enjoy being outside and visiting new places which gave us the opportunity to take photos.”
“Scouting has sparked our interest in outdoor activities, camping and learning” says Mitchell. These interests were great motivation for their photography.
The winning team took photos of the outdoor environment at different events and activities they attended, both with Scouts and family. This took place across three states with the photos uploaded to a special app. Points were allocated for locations – with the highest points awarded for areas furthest from populated areas.
“Our photos will be used to compare what we see on the ground to what satellites see. The photos can help identify water, rare and unusual plants, insects and rocks” says Josh. “The more photos we took, the more we enjoyed it, and the more we took notice of the things around us.” We enjoyed seeing the progressing map as photos were being taken. When we drove along and saw something interesting we would stop and take a photo observation.
Says Samual “I enjoyed all of it, because I like taking photos.”
The Scouts’ interest and knowledge of science took a ‘massive leap’ during the competition, and at the awards ceremony. Senior scientists explained to them how important their photography was, with many world scientists keen to congratulate and encourage them. They received an invitation to travel to China when they were older, and enjoyed tours around key Canberra sites and scientific locations in the following days.
The team is planning to still continue taking photos for NASA especially knowing how important this was and after seeing how excited NASA was to receive the information.