Recently, FIRE Lab team and collaborators produced Jac’s River Adventure (JRA) book, associated activities, engagement videos, and e-book! With JRA, we bring science and art as well as engagement and research together. Our aims with JRA book and enrichment materials are to engage with young people ages 5-11 about their local rivers, and to use these resources in research to better understand their relationships with rivers. We published JRA on our FIRE Lab Kids website in April. If you haven’t yet visited FIRE Lab Kids, please do, and be sure to download the activities to have fun and be creative with our rivers!

The activities integrated at the end of the JRA story were designed by Dr Daphne Giannoulatou with the new Welsh Curriculum in mind, and to demonstrate how we can link across disciplines to learn and share about rivers through a sci-art approach. With support from the STEM Ambassador program in Wales, we are establishing online activities with JRA to engage young people and better understand their river relationships. Our focus is young people living and studying in Wales, and most likely the materials connect most closely with people in South Wales where the book is based. We aim to start recruiting for our engagement events, and participation in our research in early September 2020.

Why use JRA and its activities for engagement and learning research?

Daphne and I believe that interdisciplinarity is important to learning and unlocking knowledge. We had this in mind with the sci-art approach to JRA and its activities. We also believe that young people have unique perspectives that are unnoticed from the adult world (sensu Noonan et al. 2016), and we would like to use JRA and the My Local River activity as methods to identify young people’s unique perspectives about rivers through story, sharing, discussion, and drawing. JRA and its activities are grounded and place-based, drawing on our personal experiences along River Tawe as well as local history, through links to the history of Swansea Jack, and by linking to the geography and ecology of rivers here in Wales. Through the online engagement and enrichment, we hope to offer young people an opportunity to share about how they relate to their local river(s) and to make connections between home and rivers (see also Littrell et al. 2020).

Stay tuned for more from these engagement and research activities and events over the coming year. We are really excited to begin this stage of our project and look forward to meeting young people across Wales (even virtually) to have some fun and share stories about our rivers! If you or young people in your life are interested in participating in an engagement event and our research, you can contact us by email team(at)firelabkids(dot)uk.

References

Noonan et al. 2016. Write, draw, show, and tell: a child-centred dual methodology to explore perceptions of out-of-school physical activity, BMC Public Health, 16: 326.

Littrell et al. 2020. Exploring students’ engagement with place-based environmental challenges through filmmaking: A case study from the Lens on Climate Change program, Journal of Geoscience Education, 68: 80-93.

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