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Life Below Water: 5 Educational Activities to Get Kids Involved

Celebrate and protect the creatures who call our oceans and lakes home

Erin Johnston
10 June 2020

Did you know 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water? On June 8th, we celebrated World Oceans Day and from June 5th-14th, we’re celebrating Oceans Week. These events are all about honouring our oceans and pledging to do our part to protect and restore them. This is more important than ever, as this year marks the beginning of the Decade of Action: 10 years to achieve the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including Goal #14: Life Below Water. By 2030, we must conserve our waters as part of a larger plan to treat our Earth in a more sustainable way. This means reducing pollution, restoring ecosystems, and implementing sustainable fishing practices.

None of these are easy tasks and in order to achieve them by 2030, we need to start now. As part of our #kids2030 mission, KCJ is committed to educating kids about the Global Goals and helping them access the skills they need to use technology to help achieve the goals. That’s why we’ve rounded up 5 fun activities to help kids learn more about underwater creatures, their ecosystems, and what we can do to protect them. Let’s dive in!

Code an ocean clean-up

Screenshot of a scratch project

Help Scratch Cat clean up the ocean. Start the project.

Clean, accessible water for everyone is an essential part of the world we want to live in but many waterways are at risk because of pollution. In this Scratch project, coders will program a diver to pick up trash in the ocean. Those who took part in Science Odyssey 2019 may remember this project but if you missed those workshops, here’s your chance to try it out!

Afterwards, ask your child how they think the project relates to ocean conservation. How does all of this trash end up in the ocean, anyway? How does it affect ocean life? What can we do as individuals and what should industries be doing to reduce this pollution?

Measure water levels with a micro:bit

Micro:bits can do just about anything, even monitor the environment around us. By coding your micro:bit to sense water levels, you can program it to send an alert when it detects a flood or a drought. To follow along with this tutorial, you’ll need a micro:bit and just a few craft supplies from around the house.

While building, ask your child to consider all of the ways a drought or flood would impact the lives of both animals and people. By measuring water levels and receiving alerts as soon as they change, would we be able to act more quickly and limit the damage?

Save the sea turtles

Did you know that after hatching, baby sea turtles use moonlight to navigate their way to the sea? Unfortunately, some beach lighting can stop them from being able to do this. The micro:bit Educational Foundation has created a project to show how micro:bits can be used to solve this problem.

Learn how to code a low-power, red LED beach light that can illuminate beach paths while still being safe for turtles. Can you or your child think of any other inventions that could help both people and animals?

Use AI to reduce pollution

A trained AI bot differentiates fish from pieces of trash.

Image: Code.org. A trained AI bot differentiates fish from pieces of trash.

How can we use machines to clean up our oceans without hurting the fish? By using Artificial Intelligence! Code.org has created AI for Oceans, an activity where kids can learn about AI, machine learning, training data and bias, and how AI can be used to address global issues.

In the activity, kids train an AI bot to classify fish and differentiate them from pieces of trash so that the fish can be protected while the trash is eliminated. After completing the activity, encourage kids to reflect on the importance of training AI. Ask them what they think could go wrong if a machine was trained using biased data.

Have a movie night

The Ontario Science Centre has released a selection of family-friendly films to watch for free, including Wild Ocean.

This documentary, filmed off the Wild Coast of South Africa, celebrates all of the sea creatures who call the area home as well as how businesses, government, and citizens have joined forces to protect them. The film also comes with an accompanying education guide to help spark deeper discussions about aquatic ecosystems.

During Oceans Week, and every day of the year, the best thing you can do is educate yourself about the ways you can help. It’s essential that kids are included in these conversations now so that they can aid in creating a positive impact as they grow up. Let us know what actions you’re taking- we’d love to hear! To learn more about our #kids2030 mission and how you can get involved, visit:
https://kidscodejeunesse.org/kids2030

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