.post img { border:5px solid #d2d2d2; padding:2px; }

Monday, 13 June 2016


Wednesday the 8th of June saw 10 awesome students step up to the challenge of Survivor set by the National Aquarium of NZ.

The first task was dissection of a squid and rather than all the 'eww yucks' I expected there were fist pumps and gleams of excitement in the student's eyes. The education officer demonstrated how to cut the squid and extract the ‘quill’. Students were then set free with a dead squid, simple utensils, a diagram of squid anatomy to see what they could discover.

It was amazing to learn the different parts of the squid and many of us didn't realise that squid ate with a beak like a birds instead of teeth.

I can't begin to describe the stench of the room by the time they were finished. It looked like there had been a massacre with squid anatomy everywhere but kids grinning ear to ear. The extracted quills were then taken into the next room to be dipped into ink to write a message on paper from a survivor stranded on a desert island.

The next survival challenge was navigation on a small boat stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Students were challenged to find out how Pacific Island peoples arrived in the Pacific Ocean. We learnt about traditional navigation, star compasses, working out how to find north using the sun and the ocean currents, using sea life such as tiger sharks waiting for turtles to arrive as they wait in the exact same location every year. Students investigated how people used bird migration paths and this was great follow on for those students who attended the 2 day science camp where they learnt all about the Godwits and their migration. We finished with looking at the voyages the double hulled waka has taken from NZ around the Pacific.

The final Survivor challenge was a treasure hunt type task around the aquarium. They began with having to untie a rope to get into a box for the first clue.

This led onto deciphering a system of dots and dashes that they quickly learnt was 'Morse Code'. The code related to letters they had on their name tags which led to the next area to find and hunt out a clue.

The Coral Reef held a group challenge of ranking items salvaged from their sinking ship. Which ones were the most important? This meant justifying choices to each other, collaboration and teamwork. When they were given the answers Charlie wanted to debate every item with the poor lady but they realised some of their mistakes of discarding items of seemingly little value which when they thought about it were very precious indeed.

Lastly a what is safe to eat challenge! Awesome! It just goes to show how educational some of those survivor shows have been with many having background knowledge. Could you safely eat a kina? A yellow moray eel? Would you eat the giant turtle or seahorses? What about the lobster or giant black eel? The list went on. It was really surprising what you could and could not eat. For example I would have gone for the giant turtle with lots of meat on it but they feed on poisonous jellyfish so are definitely out. The bright yellow colour of the moray eel is nature's way of saying 'Stay away - I'm not safe to eat.'

We finished with watching the diver feeding fish in the main tank and the chance to have a free roam and to go and revisit any special areas of interest the students had. This was very appreciated as the afternoon had been quite rushed and full of activities.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Sunrise Hut

OK technically this was not a Science based trip but I could not resist posting about this amazing tramp up through the Ruahine Forest to Sunrise Hut.

21 Year 8 students, 4 Police Officers, and I set off on a grey day from Napier. I didn't realise quite how long the drive was down past Tikokino, another 22 km from there and then 12 km or so on rough road and private farm land. The kids were excited and there was so much chatter on the way there and on the start of the tramp. Slowly the chatter died away as the climbing got steeper but the girls were all smiles here (the boys were still coming).

After another 40 minutes of climbing the dreaded questions began 'How much longer Miss?', 'Are we there yet Miss?' and 'My legs are sore'. Some of them just about cried when we reached the next sign telling them it was another hour and 45 mins of climbing to go.

I was so proud of some of the kids who were prepared to give up and had to really dig deep in order to carry on. I found myself drained keeping up the banter to take their minds off the climbing and talking about things that interested them. There were extreme differences though with trying to reign in those at the front who just about ran up the entire tramp. Staying together as a group was a challenge in itself.

Excitement quickly passed down the line as soon as they found snow. The compulsory snowball fight ensued!

We were very lucky that one of our Police Officers was in the role of Search and Rescue and entertained the kids with stories of rescues and fascinating facts. He taught them how to find north using an analogue watch, how to spot the plant known as 'Bushman's friend' and why it was called that raising a laugh from most. They learnt about tree lines, the dangers of wind chill and how fast conditions could change.

The relief of reaching Sunrise Hut was evident with everyone devouring their lunch boxes, a queue outside the long drop, and others relaxing on the veranda in the brilliant sunshine. The walk down was an easy one resulting in a group of very tired but proud students full of achievement and self worth.