No single person or organisation can address the wide array of societal issues that we currently face, which is why community-based innovation and creating shared value (CSV) is so important. CSV is a relatively new concept which is based on the belief that business is best placed to address these issues. It involves treating the community as stakeholders  when defining the core purpose of the business, rather than just being focused on profit for shareholders.

I am proud to work for a company that demonstrates its commitment to CSV – not only has DiUS incorporated CSV into its business strategy, we have also made it one of our five core values. Recognising our responsibility to improve the world for future generations,  we jumped at the opportunity to partner with Amazon Web Services to help Dr. Graziella Caprarelli bring MARVEL to life.

MARVEL aims to be a virtual laboratory for students, teachers and scientists to study and analyse real-life planetary data from Mars-orbiting satellites.  Its goal is to create a platform for crowd science to progress Mars scientific discoveries as well as conducting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education research.

MARVEL is a great example of CSV at work.  At its heart, CSV is about working as a collective, requiring cross-sector collaboration and deep partnerships to be successful. MARVEL’s founder Dr. Caprarelli is a collaborator of the Mars Express MARSIS scientific team, Associate Professor in Space Science at the University of South Australia, and a Research Professor (Adjunct) of the International Research School of Planetary Sciences. To bring her vision to reality, she has brought together a motivated team of voluntary education and science experts from organisations such as the University of South Australia, the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University College London (Adelaide, SA), Flinders University, Jacobs University, Italy’s INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics) and the International Research School of Planetary Sciences.

MARVEL will combine the contributions of students and citizens so that scientists can progress mapping the surface of Mars and help answer important scientific questions such as ‘Is life on Mars a real possibility?’ and ‘Through Mars research, what can we learn about the way our planet was formed?’. Students will contribute by measuring and describing Mars structures such as volcanoes, ‘rivers’ and craters. Their output will be integral to scientists’ research as it will help ensure that subsurface and radar data that is collected is accurately processed.

Simultaneously, teachers will be able to deliver authentic science and education through real-world discoveries, presenting possible pathways into a STEM-based career to life for students. Students will gain an appreciation of quantitative and scientific thinking, and how to communicate complex scientific ideas. MARVEL will also provide a virtual laboratory for education researchers to collect hard evidence on the effectiveness of scientific outreach programs in fostering interest in STEM.

With participants being directly trained by scientists to follow scientific methods of data collection and interpretation, MARVEL enters the realm of true citizen science. It will offer more than an opportunity for anyone to contribute at their own convenience, as interaction between scientists and students occurs throughout the life of a project. MARVEL will also move beyond outreach, aiming to provide important insights into how future generations can be inspired to pursue a career in science and engineering.

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Dr Graziella at DiUS, presenting to an engaged audience of students, teachers and industry about how they can help support the MARVEL initiative.

We are at the very beginning of our MARVEL journey and are looking for partners to help us make a greater impact. If you would like to find out more, or are interested in a commercial arrangement to support MARVEL, we would love to hear from you.