News & Events

05/02/19 – Thousands flock to meet WRM scientists at Scitech!

Over two days during the school holidays here in Perth, WRM’s Jess, Kim, Mel, Fintan and Emma were at Scitech, Western Australia’s premier and multi-award winning science museum, hosting a “Meet the Scientist” display. Over 2,000 children and their parents visited our interactive display, which was of course themed around our favourite subject: wetland science.

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Every January, Scitech features “Meet the Scientist” displays and talks, which allow school-aged children and their parents to meet and chat to real scientists, to promote scientific research in the wider community, and contribute to positive attitudes towards science. This year’s theme was “Oceans and Rivers”, and of course, as the first port of call for water as it flows through our environment, wetlands play a crucial role in keeping our oceans and rivers healthy.

Stationed right at Scitech’s entrance, our Meet the Scientist display featured a number of hands-on demonstrations, including preserved wetland macroinvertebrate specimens positioned under microscopes, which allowed visitors to get a close up look at gills, claws and compound eyes. We also featured two live aquariums, which visualised the differences between a “healthy” and an “unhealthy” wetland. The “healthy” wetland aquarium featured aquatic plants, in stream habitat (fallen leaves and branches), and two very cute western pygmy perch (Nannoperca vittata), a fish species native to the southwest of Western Australia. Contrastingly, the “unhealthy” wetland aquarium was filled with litter (plastic bags and bottles), algae, and invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) and yabby (Cherax destructor), highlighting some of the key threats facing our local wetland ecosystems.

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However, by far the most popular display was the wetland macroinvertebrate (“bug”) scavenger hunt. A series of trays were set up housing living breathing wetland macroinvertebrates, such as aquatic beetles, dragonflies, damselflies, caddisflies, water boatmen and worms. Visitors, with the help of WRM scientists, were tasked with finding and identifying each macroinvertebrate, to be checked off on a scavenger hunt worksheet. The children and their parents had a great time searching for and identifying each bug, getting a little taste of what it’s like to be a real wetland scientist!

We had such a fantastic time at Scitech over the two days, and it was a great reminder that all of us, no matter our age, have an important role to play in promoting science and research, and protecting our precious wetlands and rivers. Hopefully we managed to inspire a few future wetland scientists as well!

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