Teacher Andrew Gill  and North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre principal Roger Searl.   Photo Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin.
Teacher Andrew Gill and North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre principal Roger Searl. Photo Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin. Chris Ison ROK130412caward3

CQ students to protect Australian islands from invaders

Local students will delve into the many-layered problem of maintaining a native ecosystem on the island of North Keppel Island and innovate methods of reducing the biosecurity risk to island ecosystems across Australia.

The Central Queensland division of the Queensland Virtual STEM Academy (QVSA) has entered into a unique partnership with an island haven to provide real-world STEM experiences to students in Year 5 to 9.

Students enrolled in the QVSA Island Biosecurity Grand Challenge will interact with CQUniversity researchers and biosecurity experts from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, as well as North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre staff to explore the idea of being "Pest Free".

Standalone island ecosystems are especially vulnerable to the impact of the introduction of pest species as they have not developed much of a resistance to pests.

North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre Acting Principal, Andrew Gill, says he's excited to be part of this 21st century learning experience for students.

"North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre is well placed to be able to offer students a real life problem that is STEM based.

"Bio Security is an important part of being a grantee organisation within a National Park.

"Through online meetings and tours it is hoped the students will come up with a solution to stop the spread of new species to the island but also stop the spread of species back to visiting group's communities.

"We have over 5,000 students visiting a year, from Mackay to Brisbane out to Longreach.”

Mr Gill said that it is important visitors don't accidently take a pest species off island with them.

"It is hoped that through the students' involvement a solution to the ongoing threat would be fully implemented at the Centre in conjunction with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.”

QVSA Central Queensland Coordinator, Breeha Sinnamon, considers the relationship between the QVSA and the North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre to be of great significance.

"Being able to provide practical STEM experiences to students in our region with the opportunity for those involved to ideate quality, sustainable solutions to the problem of Biosecurity controls is remarkable.

"The students enrolled in any QVSA Grand Challenge are considered to be Queensland's best and brightest students and we can't wait to see the solutions they devise at the culmination of this program.

"Having North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre staff, as well as Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service staff and CQUniversity researchers as part of the team of experts means the students can connect on a deeper level with the content they are exploring in order to develop expertise and skills that their mentors consistently use in their careers".



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