Climate Research Facility in Papua New Guinea Launches Kiosk

Published: 8 July 2007

In 2004, ACRF Education and Outreach worked with Tradewind Communications to film interviews around Manus Island for the kiosk.

The Climate Change: Science and Traditional Knowledge kiosk project for the ACRF Tropical Western Pacific sites has come full circle. Four years ago, ACRF Education and Outreach started building educational kiosks to promote awareness and understanding of ARM research in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea; Republic of Nauru; and Darwin, Australia. On June 12, 2007, the last of the three kiosks was launched in Lorengau, Manus Island, which is where the TWP kiosk project was initiated. On that day more than 200 people attended a dedication ceremony held at the Lorengau open market.

Students from Manus Secondary School march into the open market to kick off the kiosk dedication.

ACRF educational kiosks run an interactive computer program that enables users to select and listen to interviews about climate change and climate research taking place in the regions that host ACRF sites. The kiosks were inspired by studies showing that indigenous people tend to understand and embrace science more fully when it is presented in the context of traditional ecological knowledge. For the Manus kiosk, ACRF Education and Outreach staff worked with videographer Hans La Cour of Tradewind Communications to videotape interviews with people from the community to discuss their observations of climate change. The interviews with elders, teachers, and community leaders provide a “traditional” approach to observing weather and climate as they explain how climate change will impact their subsistence way of life. Common concerns among the locals include sea level rise, coastal erosion, unpredictable seasons, and persistent drought.

Interviews with atmospheric scientists from the ARM Program and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were also included in the kiosk to provide a scientific perspective of climate change. The scientists give straightforward explanations of concepts such as the greenhouse effect, solar radiation, the Pacific warm pool, and the El Niño phenomenon. ARM scientists also explain why the Pacific region is so crucial to global climate and describe the functions of the instruments located at the research facilities.

Dedication Day for Kiosk on Manus Island

Wep Kanawi thanks DOE and the ARM Program for contributing to science education on the island.

The kiosk dedication in Lorengau was planned to coincide with the community’s observance of World Environment Day. To kick off the kiosk dedication students from selected schools marched in uniform around the open market where people gathered to participate in the festivities. Several students made speeches about various environmental issues specific to the island, such as revitalizing the mangrove tree population and repairing coral reefs.

Tau Gabi and Taddy Barras of the PNG National Weather Service on the day of the kiosk installation at Papindo Supermarket.

Speeches by Provincial Administrator Wep Kanawi and Education Administrator Leonard Jonli highlighted the significance of the collaboration between the country of Papua New Guinea and U.S. Department of Energy to operate the ACRF on Manus Island.

Kiosk contributors show off their ACRF hats and certificates of appreciation with ACRF Education and Outreach staff.

“We are thankful to the U.S. Department of Energy for this resource provided to us regarding climate research,” Kanawi said. “As an island community, we must remain aware of climate changes that will directly impact our future. This kiosk will help us educate our community about the importance of scientific research and understanding of weather and climate.”

A demonstration of the much anticipated kiosk was provided by ACRF Education and Outreach director Andrea Maestas. Under a thatched-roof shelter, the crowd gathered for a first look at the interviews from the Manus community. Students who were allowed to attend the event were given front row seats to the presentation.

Several people who contributed interviews to the kiosk attended the opening ceremony and received certificates of appreciation along with ACRF safety hats. The crowd then made its way to Papindo Supermarket where the kiosk is displayed. Governor Stephen Pokawin gave a short speech and cut the ribbon that enveloped the kiosk. As soon as it was officially launched, people anxiously lined up for a chance to use the kiosk.

Schools Get Hands on Demonstration

Andrea Maestas visits Pombrut Primary School in Lorengau.

Because most students were attending classes during the dedication ceremony, Maestas visited Pombrut Primary School and Manus Secondary School to present information about the ACRF Education and Outreach program and show the new kiosk.

Designed to be played on classroom or personal computers, the kiosk program will be distributed on disc to interested teachers and students throughout Manus Island and Port Moresby, where the PNG National Weather Service headquarters is located.