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Everyone likes to go to the beach. And when you are dealing with kids who refuse to study science, measuring the sand can make it fun and foster a new generation of citizen scientists.
  • In 2004, Sandwatch students at Hope Town Primary School in the Bahamas removed a large fishing net from the sea and buried it in the sand at the back of the beach. Five years later, after several serious hurricanes, the net was still buried and had helped stabilise the dune

    The Sandwatch Foundation
  • After several hurricanes in the Bahamas, schoolchildren helped replant sea oats and restore natural vegetation

    The Sandwatch Foundation
  • Sandwatchers observing and measuring mangroves in the Bahamas

    The Sandwatch Foundation
  • Hope Town Primary School pupils have used their Sandwatch research to enter national environmental competitions. Sharing findings with the community is part of the programme’s scientific approach

    The Sandwatch Foundation

This is the idea behind Sandwatch, a project that began in 1999 in the Caribbean. Today it involves schools all over the world monitoring their local coastal environment with the aim of protecting it. In particular, the work Sandwatch does in small island developing states such as Kiribati highlights the challenges coastal communities face from climate change.

In this audio interview, Gillian Cambers of the Sandwatch Foundation says that monitoring changes in coastal ecosystems helps young people and adults learn about the complexity of natural environments, and how climate change interacts with them in unpredictable ways.

After more than 15 years of activity, Sandwatch has a wealth of data. This is a valuable resource for many poor regions that can’t afford to run monitoring projects. Because data collected by citizens has to be validated, the project managers are changing the public database to allow participants to upload their findings and researchers to make sure these are robust.