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Geo-kids: Learning rocks

Pupils participate in geological investigations during a two-week GeoCamp. PHOTOS/DR KYLE BLAND

Story by Tom Taylor

A unique learning experience has opened up a new world of science for Wairarapa pupils.

Research institute GNS Science and education centre REAP Wairarapa have partnered to create GeoCamp, an annual programme that immersed pupils in geology and plate tectonics.

The camp ran for two weeks in May and involved 30 Year 7-9 pupils from across Wairarapa, including Carterton, South End, Greytown, Pirinoa, Kahutara, and Saint Teresa’s schools.

Six teachers also attended the camp, supporting four scientists from GNS.

An array of activities in the classroom and out in the field taught pupils about the geological forces that shaped New Zealand.

Pirinoa School teacher Natalie Lagah said the camp showed teachers how to simplify their science lessons.

“It’s applying a science lens into inquiry that we can then take back and continue the learning,” she said.

“It’s making it really easy for teachers to take science into the classroom and incorporate it into everything we teach – observation, integration, asking questions, and experimentation.”

A highlight of the camp was a field trip to Lake Onoke, where pupils learned about the earth beneath their feet. They took core samples of the earth and analysed substances within them.

Pupils also braved the changeable Wairarapa weather and headed to Pigeon Bush to learn about the Wairarapa fault line.

With the help of the GNS team, they tried to set off their seismic monitor by jumping up and down.

The group also enjoyed learning all about fossils in South Wairarapa and visited the soil sample repository in Featherston.

The final event for the fortnight was a science expo at the Greytown Town Hall, where pupils presented a range of exhibits based on their learning at the camp.

REAP Wairarapa schools liaison Trudy Sears said her favourite part of the camp was learning about uniformitarianism – the theory that variations in the earth’s crust have resulted from constant, uniform processes over time.

“The present is the key to the past,” Sears said.

“This helps to separate the modern landscape from the ancient.”

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