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Marine Biosecurity Toolbox equips Curious Minds project to ignite students’ interest in marine conservation

Sails for Science NZ, in collaboration with the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox, has launched the Curious Minds project at Northland schools, aiming to empower students to explore the fascinating world of marine biosecurity and sparks curiosity about protecting our precious marine environment. The project led by Erin Bomati in close collaboration with school teachers, mana whenua and regional government, introduces year 10 students to a range of scientific methods used in marine conservation. Through interactive lessons on ecology, biodiversity, DNA analysis, and biosecurity, students gain a deeper understanding of the importance of safeguarding our marine ecosystems. The program also highlights New Zealand’s unique position as a global hotspot for marine biodiversity and raises awareness about the threats posed by invasive species.

As part of the project, students embark on captivating sample collection voyages aboard the sailing vessel Love Machine. Guided by the Sails for Science team, students learn to use cutting-edge tools developed by the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox programme to investigate marine ecosystems. They collaborate with experts from organizations like the Northland Regional Council and NIWA to understand real-world applications of marine pest detection and biosecurity surveys.

By actively participating in sample processing, DNA extraction, and data analysis, students witness the impact of their contributions in real time. Their enthusiasm grows as they detect the presence of non-indigenous and invasive species through qPCR reactions, reinforcing their role as future guardians of marine biodiversity. This immersive experience nurtures a sense of ownership and responsibility, inspiring students to become passionate advocates for marine conservation.

By combining interactive lessons, hands-on fieldwork, and collaboration with experts, this program equips students with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect our marine environment. Through their active engagement, students develop a deep appreciation for the wonders of marine biodiversity and are motivated to become champions of marine biosecurity.

Read more about this project here.

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