Qatar: Qatar Foundation International (QFI) and Conservation International (CI) have teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University Qatar to expand QFI and CI’s “Mapping the Mangroves” project in to the field. Carnegie Mellon will work with 30 high school students and six teachers to build and install a network of remote sensors throughout the mangrove forests of Qatar.
The remote sensors will be used to collect ambient air and water temperature readings and provide students in Qatar with a real world opportunity to further explore STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education and environmental stewardship, using an inquiry-based approach.
“The goal of STEAM education is to foster the true innovation that comes from creative problem solving. This is an exciting project for the students not only because of the environmental and service learning aspects, but because they will become really involved with the system they are working with,” said Saquib Razak, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon. Dr. Razak will lead the students in setting up the sensors, which, once embedded, will provide valuable biological data.
The data collected will help scientists, environmentalists and the public alike to evaluate the health of the Mangrove Forests and wetlands in Qatar and will ultimately be assembled into curricula that can be reused and repurposed by anyone, anywhere.
QFI and CI’s “Mapping the Mangroves” project exemplifies a commitment to global challenges, local action, cross-cultural collaboration, open education and technology. From Qatar to Brazil to Indonesia, mangroves are of major importance to human well-being as they serve as nurseries for aquaculture, builders, and protectors of land, and provide an amazingly effective means for reducing carbon in the atmosphere. In spite of their importance, mangroves are threatened everywhere. Now, more than ever, there is a need to deepen the level of research and data collection to evaluate the overall health and well being of these fragile ecosystems.
Over the past year, QFI students have recorded images and observations in the mangroves of Qatar, Brazil and Costa Rica and pinned them to the exact spot and time where they were found, providing valuable data and visualizations of the health of mangroves and other flora and fauna of these biologically diverse ecosystems. The next phase of “Mapping the Mangroves” will further deepen students and teachers interaction with science and research by promoting hands on, investigatory learning and increasing literacy in the field of STEAM education and interdisciplinary conservation research.
“This unique opportunity will provide students from local Qatari Independent schools a chance to share an authentic college experience while spending a semester working side by side, with professors and their teachers alike in a world-class research university,” said Maggie Mitchell Salem, Executive Director of Qatar Foundation International.