We need your help to inspire the scientists of tomorrow!

Posted on January 20, 2017


Cape Citizen Science, a project that enlists the help of the public to identify organisms that are killing some of the fynbos species in the Western Cape, has launched a crowd funding campaign to provide youth from a local township with an opportunity to spend a day learning and taking part in sampling activities at a nearby nature reserve.

The project leader, Mr Joey Hulbert, a PhD student from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP), met with the coordinators of Vision Afrika, an organisation that bolsters learner success in Kayamandi  (a township near Stellenbosch), to discuss involving some of their learners in the project.

'We want to involve these learners in Cape Citizen Science by organising a sampling activity in an area that we have not yet visited, such as Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. They will learn about the importance of biodiversity, the threats posed by invasive species, and microorganisms as the cause of disease—all while contributing to research and releasing their inner scientists,' says Mr Hulbert.

Although the learners enrolled in the Vision Afrika programme were excited about becoming involved with Cape Citizen Science, most of them cannot afford to travel to the natural areas that are covered by the project.

This prompted the team from Cape Citizen Science and Vision Afrika to launch a crowd-funding campaign on Experiment, a platform for funding scientific discoveries. The concept behind crowd-funding is that a project or venture is funded by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. In essence it is a form of crowdsourcing or alternative finance. In 2015, it was estimated that worldwide over USD34 billion was raised this way. On the Experiment platform specifically, a project must reach the funding target for individual pledges to be charged to contributors. This eliminates the danger of projects failing because they are only partially funded and pledges not being used for the purpose they were intended for.

The Cape Citizen Science team hopes to raise enough funds to cover the costs for approximately 40 learners. To do this, they will need to reserve two or three mini-buses to transport the learners to the nature reserve (estimated at R800-R1000 per vehicle per day), offer a simple, but healthy lunch (estimated at R50-R100 per learner), and provide a small award to the most active citizen scientist, such as a field guide or a gift voucher for a bookstore.

Contributions exceeding the team's goal of $400 will be used to expand the impact that the project has on the lives of the learners involved. More funds translate into more learners, more activities and more unique experiences that could inspire a new generation of scientists and demonstrate that anyone can become a scientist.

Please visit Cape Citizen Science and Vision Africa's Experiment-website to contribute to the enrichment of the lives of children from disadvantaged communities.



- Author Ansa Heyl

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