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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.

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