As way of giving back to society, SERVIR E&SA introduced an activity dubbed RCMRD Space Challenge targeting primary and secondary schools to enlighten and equip children in Kenya and RCMRD member States on some of the causes and drivers of climate change.
This challenge leverages on a partnership between RCMRD, GLOBE Program [Kenya] (Environmental Education program which provides students practical skills in environmental study, data collection and analysis), 4H Kenya (program that seeks to give children practical skills in agriculture, agribusiness and environmental conservation) with support from the Ministry of Education.
The RCMRD space challenge is meant to equip students from high schools and primary schools within Kenya with necessary skills related to climate change and its drivers. The challenge helps in building resilience to climate change among the youthful generation in our society, and also influences behaviour change in regards to climate related issues. This platform also encourages exchange of climatic data and partnerships between likeminded institutions like GLOBE and TAHMO for sustainability purposes. With a long term goal of enriching climate data, this program helps install weather stations in various primary and secondary schools participating in the challenge.
The 2018 challenge was level specific with primary and secondary schools having different sets of challenges. The theme for RCMRD-space challenge for 2018 was Schools in Action. Participating schools were: Maseno School, Magomano, Mukumu Girls, Moi Forces Lanet, Ngiya Primary, Kata Primary, Mambrui Primary, St Georges Primary, Thome Boys, Nasokol Girls, Holy Cross Boys, Sirua Aulo High, Bushiangala, Nyandarua High , Visa Oshwal, Moi Forces Nairobi,· St. Scholastica Primary and Kitololoni Primary.
The primary level focused on:downloading and aggregating to monthly weather data from two TAHMO stations from 2015 to 2018 while RCMRD harmonizated the data and sent to the teachers. The stations included Likoni and Kipsigis schools.
Data checks and usability was done by schools and they reported on the same. They plotted of all the weather parameters and indicated the relationships for the year 2015, 2016 and 2017. They also selected an event/observation from the year 2015-plotted data that was of unique behaviour and followed through in the successive years (2016 and 2017) noted and stated possible reasons for the increase or decrease. Further, they used five different cameras to take a photo of the students (same students, time and distance) indicating the characteristics (example Mega pixel) of the cameras used and were required to discuss the differences in spatial resolution of the photos taken.
Unlike the 2017 challenge, the 2018 challenge allowed participation from Form 3 to Form 1 students. The ratio of participation was as follows: six form 3, four form 2 and 2 form 1 bring the total to 12 students per school. The secondary level focused on: on:downloading and aggregating to monthly weather data from two TAHMO stations. RCMRD harmonized the data and satellite images and sent to the teachers. The stations included Likoni and Kipsigis schools.
They conducted data checks and usability and reported on the same.The students plotted data of all the weather parameters and indicated the relationships for the year 2015,2016 and 2017. They also performed image classification on the provided satellite images for Kipsigis and Likoni and picked the following five classes: Forests, Grassland, Bare ground, Build –up and Water bodies. A total of 4 images was provided (Two images for Kipsigis schools for the year 2016 and 2017, and two images for Likoni year 2016 and 2017 were provided.)
Contestants calculated the areas of the land cover filling them into a table that was part of the report. It included Land cover class 2016 2017, Forest, Grassland
Bare ground,Build Up and Water Body. They selected an event/observation from the year 2015, plotted data that was of unique behaviour and followed through in the successive years (2016 and 2017) linking to land cover while noting and stating possible reasons for the increase or decrease. They concluded by discussing the stated and noted possibilities.
The challenge was in three parts: orientation for teachers that took place in April. Downloading and aggregating monthly weather data from two TAHMO stations, sending to RCMRD for harmonization. They also wrote reports and presented the findings to a team of judges. The students were then graded according to the reports submitted (60%) and oral presentations they made (40%).
The RCMRD Space Challenge 2018 Awards Ceremony was held on July 13, 2018, by the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi, Kenya. 12 students represented each school.