On 5 June, 11 teams of secondary and junior colleague students celebrated World Environment Day with the news that they have been awarded grants to carry out research on biodiversity and ensure a cleaner and greener Singapore.
These students applied for the inaugural Little Green Dot Student Research Grant which is a joint collaboration by IKEA Singapore, WWF Singapore and Nature Society (Singapore). Targeted at upper secondary and junior colleague students, the aim is to encourage young inspiring environmentalists to learn about our natural environment through direct discovery and play an active part to help Singapore become a “little green dot” on our planet.
A total of 34 entries were submitted and the 11 best were selected for the grant. The teams comprising 2 to 4 members will receive grants of up to $5000. Funding from the grant comes from proceeds collected from the sale of IKEA Singapore’s No More Free Plastic Bags campaign.
“The IKEA vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people and this is one way which IKEA Singapore hopes to contribute to the local community and conserve the environment for a more sustainable & brighter future,” said Mrs Joycelyn Teo-Moser, Sustainability Manager, Ikano Retail Asia.
This year, the theme of the research is on marine and freshwater conservation in Singapore. Starting from May, students will have six months to carry out their research. Well-known environmentalists such as Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society (Singapore) and Ms Tan Beng Chiak, President of the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore) among others, will be assigned to each team as mentors who will provide guidance throughout the duration of the research project. Upon completion of their research, the groups will also have the opportunity to share their findings with the public.
The areas of research that the students will be working on varies from investigating the impact of land reclamation on the local marine ecosystem, to studying the impact of fish fertilisers on algal bloom in Singapore, which can be a cause of death for fishes in local fisheries. Other research topics include conserving Malayan flat-shelled terrapins, identifying ideal salinity conditions for local marine, and investigating the impact of oxygen concentration in local waters on the growth of coral reefs, among others.
“Through this programme, we hope the students can look into ways to protect for example our marine ecosystem and biodiversity, and help turn “Singapore into a little green dot”. Also, the combination of conducting research on topics that interest them as well as guidance from practicing environmentalists is one of the best way to learn about the environment out of the classroom, said Ms Amy Ho, Managing Director, WWF Singapore. In addition, the research findings will be useful to local conservation efforts,” she added.
The programme also hopes to facilitate the development of a new generation of leaders in conservation and biodiversity studies. “All of the projects that we reviewed were intriguing and well crafted. They will get even better – both in terms of scientific rigour as well as the output of valuable conservation data – with input from mentors and teachers. If these student proposals were anything to go by, the future of nature in Singapore is in good hands,” said Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society (Singapore).