A Geography assignment about the challenges of wood smoke in Armidale by The Armidale School’s Sambavan Jeyakumar not only impressed his teacher who gave him full marks, it has topped a statewide competition.
As part of a Year 9 unit, Sam chose to explore the environmental and economic factors affecting Armidale’s wood smoke problem for a research action plan. Describing his work as ‘university standard”, Ms Taber then entered it in the 2015 Geography Fieldwork competition run by the Georgraphy Teachers’ Association, who last week notified Sam it was awarded first prize for Global Education Fieldwork and Research – Stage 5.
As part of his assignment, Sam spoke with Armidale Dumaresq Council staff about planning issues, two doctors regarding respiratory health, a UNE environmental psychologist who has worked with the council to implement and evaluate strategies to change behaviours to reduce wood smoke emissions, and conducted a community survey to gauge the level of impact and appetite for change.
“It’s a really big issue that affects the health of many residents, but wood fires are a cheap form of heating,” Sam said. “In the plan I recommended that there are changes to some of the chimneys to more efficiently disperse smoke, but also for the council to introduce a five hundred dollar rebate so people can buy electrical heaters instead.”
Sam will be presented with his prize at the Governor Arthur Phillip Awards ceremony held in conjunction with the association’s annual conference in Sydney on 8 April. The top HSC Geography students in the 2015 HSC will also be acknowledged on the night.