There is a very large area of mined land in Western Australia. The Data Release from the Department of Mining and Petroleum reveals that there are 37,505 sites covering almost 113,000 Ha where traditional land has been damaged. Only 31,784 Ha having had some/minor remediation work done. The costs associated with that remediation are large. Little is known about the original state of much of the damaged country. It is thus a domain crying out for research to be conducted. However, we have too few scientists to survey the land, the soils, the plants and the water in preparation for its remediation.
ECIER is collaborating with one company in the Pilbara, WaterCorp and Local Government representatives in the South West who are willing to collaborate with ECU to identify educational approaches that will support the research being carried out by WA scientists. Scientists at ECU have conducted much of their research into rehabilitation. This project will support ongoing collaboration for real science to occur through the practical engagement of high school students in scientific investigations of personal concern to them: their damaged lands.
In 2015, ECIER undertook a Pilot Study near South Hedland with ECU scientists, Associate Professor Mark Lund and Dr Melanie Blanchette, who worked with Year 7 students to sample water, soils and identify plants. In 2016, we returned to the Pilbara to conduct a more extensive study close to the participating school. At each site, pairs of soil and water samples were taken one of which was returned to Perth while students undertook experiments in their science classrooms on the other sample with equipment supplied by ECIER. Soil Analyses revealed that much of the DNA (70%) contained in the soils was not listed in any databases. This illustrates the unique nature of West Australian soils.
ECU Strategic Initiative Fund,
Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research
Koodaideri Pty Ltd
January 2015 - December 2017
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