That’s the mantra of the Samsel Upper Elementary School fifth grade class, one of two Grand Prize winners of the 2012 K-12 UNLESS Contest. Students at Samsel, an elementary school nestled in Sayreville, New Jersey, went WAY above and beyond creating artwork to raise awareness of the connection between palm oil and orangutans.
“This was an excellent project. Our students’ interest level never wavered throughout the competition.” their homeroom teacher Miss Janet Ust reported. “Thank you for the opportunity to participate!”
Tell us which of these Samsel project highlights is your favorite and we’ll share your feedback with the kids!
While “working in the rainforest” may sound like every nature lover’s dream, the reality is there are more challenges than you can shake a leafy stick at, particularly for those who study animals that rarely come to the ground. But Philadelphia Zoo conservation partner Dr. Serge Wich, Director of Research at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) and Lian Pin Koh of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, have developed a new tool that will “heighten” their ability to study their favorite arboreal species – orangutans.
Conservation “drones” are remote control airplanes outfitted with a combination of still and video cameras that can be carried around and launched from a small open space. Using drones makes it easier to detect orangutans and orangutan nests high in the treetops and to collect more accurate data on how oil palm plantations and illegal logging are impacting their habitat. Before drones, researchers would have to pay for expensive satellite images or pricey Ultralight flights to get a quick snapshot in time of wildlife activity. Now those same researchers can drone the day away; gathering up to the minute data and using it to determine how best to protect orangutans.
Though still in the prototype phase, the drone has already had several test flights in Indonesia and undergone a few design iterations. To say it’s done remarkably well already would be an understatement. Since February 2012, drones have been tried by six conservation groups, including SOCP, on two continents; talk about filling a need!
The overarching aim of the drone project is to make the them as useful for field researchers in the tropics as they can while making sure drones remain a low-cost option that provide high quality data. To get a better feel for droning check out the new Conservation Drones website and this video from an early test flight.