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Scientists prepare for school camp in Kaitaia in May - 26/04/2017

Scientists have been in town over the Easter-Anzac period finalising arrangements for a second hands-on science camp for intermediate-age students in Kaitaia in May.

Called a GeoCamp, it will be a 10-day field-based learning experience for about 30 students and their teachers from the Far North. It follows a successful GeoCamp event in Kaitaia a year ago.

Organised by GNS Science, GeoCamps are designed to awaken the inquiring scientist in students through curiosity-driven, problem-solving activities and field trips. They also provide professional development for teachers who participate.

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Students at last year’s Kaitaia GeoCamp studying a coastal cliff formation at Henderson Bay, near Houhora. Photo: Julian Thomson, GNS Science

As well as Kaitaia, GNS Science has held successful GeoCamps in Napier and New Plymouth in the past five years.

The event, which will run between 8 and 20 May, will involve no cost to the students and will be run from a central site during school hours. Six schools in the Far North region have signed up and will be sending year 7, 8 and 9 students and teachers to attend.

It will involve a mix of classroom activities and field sessions, depending on the weather.

GeoCamp leader Kyle Bland, a geologist at GNS Science, said the aim was to create an environment as close to doing ‘real science’ as possible so students could experience the power of discovery for themselves.

“Themes will be ecology, the ocean, climate, and the geological history of the Far North,” Dr Bland said.

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Themes will be ecology, the ocean, climate, and the geological history of the Far North

Dr Bland

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“We hope to show that through a bit of knowledge students will be able to discover the hidden stories in the landscape and what makes the natural world work.”

Field trips are planned to places such as Karikari Peninsula, Ninety Mile Beach, Herekino Forest and Houhora.

Four staff from GNS Science will be in Kaitaia for the duration of the event, with others visiting for shorter periods to share their specialist expertise. It is hoped that educators from other organisations such as museums will also participate.

On the last day of the GeoCamp, the students will put on a public expo at Te Ahu Community Centre in Kaitaia to showcase particular aspects of the science camp. The expo will be open to the public between 9:30am and 12:30pm.

“By showing what they have discovered to others, the students take ownership of their learning experiences. This empowers them to communicate their discoveries, just as real scientists do.”

The GNS Scientists are also planning a couple of evening presentations on Wednesday 10th and Wednesday 17th May between 6pm and 7pm. Topics will be the “Geology of the Far North” and “An Introduction to GNS Science research in Antarctica”.