Nayland College student Ra Edmonds took home the Climate Challenge Award at this week’s Cawthron Sci Tech expo for their entry, ‘Sun, Sea and Sediment’.
This is the second year The Nelson Tasman Climate Forum has sponsored a prize at the event which sees Nelson’s brightest scientific minds apply their skills to understanding and tackling the challenges of the modern world. Ra created a project about how human impacts and development leads to high rates of sedimentation. Ra and a small crew travelled along the Monaco coastline, collecting samples and using a black and white chequered Secchi disc, a visual gauge to measure water clarity. The hypothesis that water clarity would increase and sediment particle size would decrease further from the shore was all going as expected until they hit an unexpected drop in visibility, due to the intersection of the Poorman Valley Stream into their test zone.
Ra explains that when sediment from the land, particularly areas where development, forestry and farming are in play infiltrates the marine environment, the effects can be harmful.
Increased sedimentation makes it harder for fish to breathe, and scallop populations are being suffocated by the sediment caused by dredging practices, and what comes from the land.
I want people to understand that marine environments are hard to renew without tackling the issues that happen on land. The sea is constantly fed by the land, and being influenced by what’s happening on it.
Ra also took home the Dick Roberts prize for project ‘Border Control’ on invasive species. Last year, they scooped the Forest and Bird Shield and The Supreme Award for Research Projects.
Aside from their love of science, Ra is active in their school’s drama company, performing at the last Shielagh Winn Shakespeare festival. After school, Ra hopes to do a bachelor of science degree in University of Canterbury. When asked how they intend to spend the prize money, Ra said ‘I’m putting it towards the costs of my study, but I might buy some plants’!