Introducing EFECTS

Empowering young people to take climate action, take steps to protect marine biodiversity and become underwater superheroes

Throughout October and November 2022, Elle together with Dr Maria-Valasia Peppa and Dr Nasser Tuqan from the Water Security Hub, delivered the KATS: EFECTS (Empowering Future Environmental Changemakers through Science) project across three primary schools in Newcastle.

The project focussed on exploring the Sustainable Development Goals – especially SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 14 (Life Below Water). With students at Chillingham Road, West Jesmond, and Benton Park, we learnt about all things marine biodiversity and the threats that climate change poses to life below water.

Becoming Climate News Reporters

The project began with two in-school outreach sessions that used innovative education tools to introduce students to marine biodiversity and climate change. We learnt about the SDGs and used virtual reality headsets to explore life below water. Students learnt all about their school marine mascot (Polar Bear, Sea Turtle and Penguin) and became news reporters on the KATS Global Network – telling kids all around the world about the impact of climate change on their school mascot.

Telling Climate Change Stories

Students also learnt about the importance of climate change stories by following the story of Freddy the Fish and his journey through polluted local rivers and streams. During this story, students participated in a fun scientific experiment, gradually adding materials representing pollutants caused by human activities to Freddy’s waterways. Students also created their own climate superheroes and acted out their adventures, and became citizen scientists by using hand-held weather sensors to collect data about their natural environment.

Students from West Jesmond Primary also got the opportunity to zoom with Providence Elementary School students whilst the KATS team was out in Barbados! Young people got the chance to share their knowledge of marine biodiversity, their attitudes towards climate change and got the chance to ask each other questions about their home environments.

Photo: Flooded Cellar Productions

Applying Climate Change Knowledge

We then went on a visit to Seven Stories and participated in climate change debates (good guys vs bad guys) and became activists by creating their own climate change story banner!

On December 9th, we wrapped up the KATS: EFECTS project at the Great North Museum: Hancock, where all the students from the three schools joined together for a day full of fun activities around marine biodiversity and climate change! After a re-cap of the project, the students got the chance to meet real life underwater superheroes – like Professor Richard Dawson from the Water Hub, and Dr. Simon Benson who worked on the fantastic FlipFlopi project. Representatives from each school went head to head in the ‘School Challenge’ and participated in three amazing activities which included, creating their own recycled plastic bracelets with the North Sea Rejects, going on an SDG treasure hunt around the GNM, and creating their own boat rafts out of plastic bottles they recycled from their lunch boxes!

At the end of the day there was an award ceremony, celebrating students’ hard work throughout the latest KATS project. There were four categories – Best Climate Story Banner, Top Climate Debater, Chief News Reporter, and Marine Biodiversity Expert – with awards handed out to 16 students by our Water Security Hub colleagues!

The EFECTS project has been an important step to connecting young people around the world and create a global network of climate change superheroes. In 2023, the KATS team will be expanding the project even further internationally, continuing our work with the Water Security Hub by delivering KATS in India, as well as Barbados (2.0!) and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) countries.

“I learnt that I’m good at something. I’m good at science.”

Benton Park Primary Student

We want to say a massive thank you to Chillingham Road, West Jesmond and Benton Park for participating in the project, and Seven Stories and Great North Museum: Hancock for helping us deliver some fantastic activities and the Water Security Hub, FlipFlopi and North Sea Rejects. The EFECTS project would not have been possible without the funding from NERC. Watch this space for a documentary produced by Tyneside Cinema.