Wanaka pupils study UV levels and effects

SHARE

Some of Wanaka Primary School’s year five and six pupils have been working on a citizen science project to better understand the relationship between time, temperature and ultraviolet (UV) intensity, science teacher Karina Sharpe says.

The project is funded by a Participatory Science Platform (PSP) grant and supported by the staff at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

The PSP grants encourage groups such as schools to get involved in science projects and is developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Education.

Mrs Sharpe said high temperatures and high UV levels did not always match in Central Otago.

“This can lead to misinformed choices when it comes to sun-smart behaviour,” she said.

“Using a combination of a UV index display board, UV solarmeters, UV apps, and thermometers, students will take temperature and UV readings at selected locations and intervals throughout the day.

She said within the project was scope to introduce other variables such as time (sun angle), weather, depth of shade, position near buildings, material coverings and season.

They intended to carry the project on as the children got older.

“The project is a pilot study and we want to continue it into the winter (investigating UV levels during our school ski programme) and into further years by changing the variables and focus of the study,” she said.

“This research will lead to improved student and community understanding of UV exposure and this, in turn, will hopefully lead to improved sun-smart choices, both at school and around the Wanaka township.

“It has been wonderful.

“As this group become more educated about UV exposure, they will take their newfound knowledge to the community and other students in the school.

“Sharing findings and carrying out experiments with students as young as five, will help ensure that hundreds of others are developing a first-hand understanding of UV dangers and benefits.”

Every Wednesday the group gets together to use equipment the school has bought, and some of the pupils are exploring their own questions, such as UV and different types of sunglasses and fabric.

“They are encouraged to be curious and explore.”

The pupils also visited the Niwa site near Lauder yesterday.

Niwa technician John Robinson has made a UV index display board for the school and Diana Power, of the Cancer Society New Zealand talked to the pupils to help them better understand UV radiation.