The following is a guest post by Mia Cobb.

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.

This eyebrow-raising initiative is a collaboration between dog poo entrepreneur Duncan Chew from Poo Power! and Mia Cobb from the Anthrozoology Research Group, recent winner of I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! in Australia. 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.

“From our research only 3% of Australians see uncollected dog waste as an environmental concern,” explains Duncan Chew. “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.”  Mia Cobb echoes her enthusiasm for the initiative: “This is a great way to utilise the 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, all 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 the two students with the most 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, or available here.
To contextualise the material for classroom lessons, teachers can download the Poo Power! Study Guide.

About Mia

Mia Cobb is a zoologist and current PhD candidate at Monash University, researching working dog welfare. She has worked in animal shelter, stable and kennel facilities for 20 years. Mia thinks helping scientific research jump out of the academic journals and into the laps of everyone is fun and important. She blogs about canine science at Do You Believe in Dog? and co-hosts the Human Animal Science podcast. Mia is a founding Director of the Working Dog Alliance and recently won her zone in the national I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! competition in Australia – an American Idol-style competition for scientists, where students are the judges.

About Duncan and Poo Power!

Did you know that the 4.2 million dogs in Australia will generate 6.3 million tonnes of poo over their lifetimes? That’s a mountain’s worth that we dump in landfills or leave uncollected to pollute our rivers and beaches. Duncan Chew is the man behind Poo Power! – a Melbourne Water supported project that shines a light on this innovation. Through his website, iPhone app and other outreach activities Duncan shows Australians that we can keep our cities and waterways clean while producing renewable energy to light our dog parks. Duncan is the owner of two Boxers – Sally (14) and Diesel (7).

Competition details

Individual student prizes include 2 iPod Shuffles and 4 Doggie Doo games.
For each competing class, teachers will receive a copy of the ‘Dog Poo – The Truth At Last’ on DVD.

Photo by Riley Crawford on Unsplash

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