As part of an ongoing collaboration between the GRG and Wenona School, Ana and I just returned from Lizard Island in the northern Great Barrier Reef. We participated in the 2019 Wenona STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Tour that saw us accompany 16 female high school students and two teachers to the island. Together we undertook a really exciting teaching and research campaign around the island and also on the outer ribbon reefs (Ribbon Reef #10).
The feedback from the girls and the parents has been very positive and we believe it has cast a positive light on new STEM opportunities and careers. Together the girls helped collect wave data and ~80 sediment samples that will be used in longitudinal studies of carbonate vs. siliciclastic sedimentation, microplastics and furthering our understanding of reef responses to climate change.
They had the opportunity to interact with some leading scientists in the fields of ocean coastal dynamics, carbonate sedimentology, and fish biology from around the world that were working at the station while we were there. Ana was also a particular hit with the students, as she shared her experiences being one of very few women in her field, struggling to balance family commitments while breaking through the glass ceilings of academia. For Jody it was also an amazing experience being able to finally return to Lizard Island where he did his honours project over 26 years ago!
The island is still one of the most beautiful places on Earth but it was difficult to see the reef in such bad shape after successive cyclones and back-to-back bleaching events…… That said there was lots evidence of coral recovery. We all hope that this recovery can continue.
Overall, it as a wonderful and unforgettable experience. We are now looking forward to the next STEM adventure and a return to Lizard in 2021/22.
Jody and Ana.