sarahkeenihan

Poo for good and not evil

In November 2013 on November 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

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Sarah: When the kids and I walk to school, it’s not rare for us to encounter dog turds along the neighbourhood streets. As I casually drop a ‘look out for the poo’ warning, immediately all three come running.

“Where’s the poo?”

“Can I see the poo?”

“Ewww, it’s all white. And long.”

You get the picture.

But all is not lost. Now we have the chance to channel that poo obsession for good instead of for maternal frustration. All will be explained in the following guest post by Mia Cobb from the Anthrozoology Research Group, and recent winner of I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! in Australia.

What happens when you combine Poo Power! (as covered by Sarah back in February) with a zone winner of I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! (that’s me) and a canine science blogger (that’s also me).

You get the Poo Power Global Challenge!

Some might say it’s a joke or April Fool’s Day material, but we’ve never been so serious!

Students and classes will be pitched against each other to see who can identify the most and largest dog waste ‘hotspots’ in their local neighbourhood in the ‘Poo Power! Global Challenge’. Participants use a GPS-enabled iPhone to download the free Poo Power! App from the App Store. Their task is to identify and map dog poo ‘hotspots’ in dog parks and public spaces from their neighbourhood from Monday 25 November 2013.

For this project I’m working closely with Duncan Chew from Poo Power!. The collected information will be uploaded onto the Global Poo Map and provides a platform for students to discuss the scientific, social and environmental issues of dog waste. The students are then encouraged to write a letter to their local Government representative of their findings and recommendations.

Here’s what Duncan had to say on the matter:

“From our research only 3% of Australians see uncollected dog waste as an environmental concern.”

“When it rains, uncollected dog poo gets washed down drains, effecting water quality and habitat for native animals, as well as making rivers and creeks unpleasant for us to visit.”

From my point of view, I see the project as a great way to utilise my prize money from winning the I’m A Scientist – Get Me Out of Here! competition, to raise awareness of new sustainable energy sources, environmental issues and responsible dog ownership, and all the while increasing student engagement in a unique citizen science activity.

The collated information has the poo-tential to identify sites for biogas-powered lights for parks as proposed by the Melbourne-based project, Poo Power!, currently in development. The methane that is released from the dog waste as it breaks down inside a ‘biogas generator’ can be used as a viable renewable energy source. Competition prizes and giveaways are up for grabs for students who participate with photo submissions received between 25th November and 9th December 2013.

After this initial competition period closes, the project will continue to run, collecting ongoing hotspot data worldwide.

Full instructions on how to participate via www.poopower.com.au or available here.

For classroom applications, teachers can download the Poo Power! Study Guide. For each competing class, teachers will receive a copy of the ‘Dog Poo – The Truth At Last’ on DVD.

[image thanks to Steven Pam]

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  1. […] freelance science writer. Guest posts from Heather Bray, Geoff Hudson, Tiki Swain (here and here), Mia Cobb and Cameron Webb have also been wonderful, adding diversity and interest across the breadth of […]

  2. […] You may remember a previous SFL365 guest post Poo for good and not evil. Written by Mia Cobb, it talked about a cool project which used dog poo as a source of energy to […]

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