Blackheath Public abuzz after citizen science project

Blackheath Public is one of five schools taking part in a national project bringing citizen science to the classroom.

The students have been looking at pollinators, and testing whether colour and configuration of artificial flowers influences which and how many wild insect pollinators they attract.

Amelie Vanderstock, a PhD researcher at the University of Sydney, is guiding the experiment with the students. She is passionate about native bees, protecting pollinators and community science.

"By understanding whether a mix of different flowers versus large clumps of the same flower is more attractive to wild pollinators, we can better design gardens to be pollinator-friendly," she said.

Blackheath Public teacher Stephen Morris said the project had helped engage his students in science.

"It has been fantastic for students to have an opportunity to participate in science that has a real-world impact," he said. "It has allowed students to solve problems as well as develop critical thinking skills by thinking outside the classroom, and engaged them to try new ideas and work in unconventional ways."

Through the hands-on experience, students learnt how to identify the bees, flies and wasps that pollinate flowers.

"What I like best was the talk about the bees, flies and wasps and learning about how they pollinate our world and I liked the experiment we did," said student Olivia Pellegrini. "I loved watching to see if our flowers attracted insects. It was great working with Amelie and such a fun experience."

The project is provided through the Ecological Society of Australia and the Office of Environment and Heritage.