Thirty local and international secondary schools will compete in this year’s Hong Kong Inter-School City Nature Challenge this week. The annual event encourages students to explore the biodiversity of their city.
It is the largest synchronised nature-based school activity in Hong Kong.
During the four-day contest, student participants must take photos of specimens in and around their campus using iNaturalist, a free app that allows users to upload photographs to a global database.
These observations can then be identified by other users – including ecologists, enthusiasts, and nature lovers in the iNaturalist community – from November 9 to 12.
By Tuesday afternoon, a total of 11,043 observations and 1,093 species were logged by 902 student observers. Korean International School was the leading school with the highest number of observations (2,317) and species (275) recorded.
Tung Chung Catholic School student Yoyo Zou Cho-yiu, 14, told Young Post that she was surprised by how many specimens she was able to find on her campus alone. “[The competition] is enriching my knowledge of the biodiversity on my school’s campus, and making me more interested in scientific exploration,” she added.
Eleven-year-old Gloria Park from Korean International School agreed. “It’s a great opportunity to observe plants and animals that I pass by every day, but would not normally stop and pay attention to.”
“I think it’s rare to find a project like this with so many people working together at the same time using modern technology,” Florian Kwok Yuen-kiu, 13, of Think Academy (Tsung Tsin) told Young Post.
Both Hannah Dennise Guese, 13, and Sung Chi-sum, 17, from Buddhist Wong Fung Ling College and St Stephen’s Girls’ School respectively thought it was very interesting to learn about biodiversity around their campus. “I think it is a great activity that [builds] our competitive skills while we get to learn more about nature,” said Hannah.
“This is a precious chance for us to learn about biodiversity and taxonomy,” said 15-year-old Ngai Wai-kit from Shau Kei Wan East Government Secondary School. “I am really grateful to be able to participate in this competition.”