KATS: Puffin Project

Introducing the KATS: Puffin Project

Championing young people to become citizen scientists by collecting and reporting data on their own local biodiversities!

June 2022 saw the culmination of the KATS (Kid’s Action Thru Science) programme the ‘Puffin Project’ with children from three schools and their teachers visiting Newcastle University. Professor Pauline Dixon, Elle Young, Dr Gopal Iyer and Dr Andrea Wilkinson devised and led the programme. For the last three weeks children from Felton C of E Primary, West Jesmond Primary and St Cuthbert’s RC Primary became citizen scientists adding their voices and data to research that looks at how climate change affects biodiversity with a focus on Puffins.

Exploring Local Biodiversities

Over two weeks the children became citizen scientists or “Puffineers”, to investigate biodiversity with a focus on the North East coastline and islands. Initially the children experienced biodiversity through virtual reality headsets, learned about the diets and habitats of Puffins, and focused on three SDGs – Climate Action (SDG13), Life Below Sea (SDG14) and Life on Land (SDG15). The children learned about the impact of air pollution on biodiversity, collecting air quality data themselves using pollution sensors and GPS technology on mobile phones. They carried out experiments within their own school’s environment to inform their final citizen science project.

Becoming the ‘Puffarazi’

Digital cameras, video and digital voice recorders allowed the children to become Puffarazzi when they visited the Farne Islands on a Puffin Cruise. The children were able to apply what they had learnt about biodiversity during their school sessions on the trip. They made scientific observations, used the air quality sensors, took photos, and made notes about the Puffins’ habitat.

As with the previous KATS programmes, the children were encouraged to become journalists and reporters for the day narrating what they saw by interviewing those on the boat and producing pieces of creative writing once back in school.

Reporting live from Newcastle University

When visiting Newcastle University the children took part in a Puffin University Challenge contest, named their adopted Puffins from the RSPB, worked with North Sea Rejects to design a climate change T shirt, went on a University Treasure Hunt, and recorded reporting soundbites for “Puffin News”. The University Puffin expert, Dr Richard Bevan provided his expertise to the day presenting his research and answering questions. Dr Julie Morris presented the children with prizes for best Puffarazzi photo, best audio captures and Puffin News report. Professor Chris Day called in and Flooded Cellar have now produced our third KATS video. Check it out here.