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Fiji Time: 11:34 AM on Tuesday 2 September

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Science Program links students

Timoci Vula
Monday, May 17, 2010

A GROUP of 50 students from Fiji and Chicago are earmarked to participate in a science program to be launched next year, via a digital medium, to promote coral reef environment.

The project, led by Chicago-based Field Museum scientists, will link students from Chicago's Austin neighbourhood andstudents in Fiji to experience coral reef environments in the Pacific Ocean, engage in the scientific process and participate in real world conservation.

Students from Chicago and Fiji will deliberate on topics and issues around coral reef ecology and conservation by making and sharing videos, photos, and blogs, and uploading them to the website called "Fiji Reef".

PhysOrg.com, a web-based science, research and technology news service, said students would get content for these videos from virtual coral reefs, interaction with Field Museum scientists and trips to real reefs or to Chicago's Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum.

The website said the project was among a small group of winners in a grant competition that attracted more than 800 applications.

The topics covered include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies.

"We will combine real life experience with digital technology, letting teens tell their own stories," said Joshua Drew, a Field Museum research scientist and project leader.

"Teens have their own voices that need to be expressed. They feel marginalised when others speak for them," Mr Drew told PhysOrg.com.

"Digital technology is an integral part of teenagers' daily lives.

"They keep pushing the envelope and exploring new ways to interact and share with one another. We want to direct those interests to involve them in real science, and empower them to affect change globally and locally," he said.

Mr Drew said the website "Fiji Reef" would be open to everyone, and already expectations are that thousands of interest-driven youths would participate, collaborating with the core students and uploading their own content.

"By collecting data, generating hypotheses and testing them, young people learn how scientists work," he said.


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