This issue of Schools in the Environment (SITE) provides a general overview of the educational programmes we currently offer at the Council.
Although most of the programmes and activities are loosely aimed for the middle school areas, nearly all of them can easily be adapted for all levels. In addition we have a wide range of resources which schools are welcome to use, when they are available.
The Taranaki Regional Council education programmes give students the opportunity to learn through activities which highlight the value and diversity of our natural environment.
The youngest student I have hosted was a three-year-old girl from an early childhood centre who took a full part in a stream study. The oldest student was an 85-year-old man who really enjoyed his time at the Rainforest School at Pukeiti, as an adult helper. He announced to everybody at the end of the session that it was the best day he had ever had at school!
Please contact me if you want support for any of the programmes that are listed below or if you think I might be able to help. If I can't help, I can often suggest someone who may be able to. The programmes offered are available mainly in school terms and within school hours but there is some flexibility with both, which might appeal to some early childhood centres and other groups. To have the greatest value, many of the field trips mentioned should be preceded by classroom lessons.
The following programmes are available throughout the year.
Nearly every waterway in Taranaki is suited to a study, which at a younger level involves invertebrate sampling, water clarity and water temperature readings. Year 12 and 13 classes and adult groups often use the SHMAK (Stream Health Measurement Assessment Kit) for their lessons.
Rocky shore studies
Most of the best sites for rocky shore studies are in north-west Taranaki from Manihi Rd (Rahotu) to Airedale Reef (Waitara) with Kawaroa in New Plymouth being the most favoured.
There are some excellent wetland areas suitable for school visits. Popular ones are Nowells Lake, near Hawera and Barrett Lagoon and the Peringa Park wetlands in New Plymouth.
Virtually every pond is inhabited by a variety of invertebrates and many also support a wide variety of pond plants and birdlife.
As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter, visits to the Rainforest School at Pukeiti have been popular for some time while the recently written study units for the Woodlands School (Hollard Gardens - Kaponga) and the Riverside School (Tūpare - New Plymouth) offer different activities.
These lessons focus on the hazards that we need to be aware of in Taranaki, through to how we can prepare ourselves to cope with an emergency situation. A visit to the Taranaki Emergency Management Office (TEMO) in New Plymouth is a useful extension to this study.
This activity is available as an activity at all our gardens but can also be taken in schools. The lesson covers the pest animals we deal with in Taranaki, the damage and harm they cause and the various methods we use to control them. The stuffed animals seem to fascinate many students.
A mountain trip is more successful if the visit is preceded by a class lesson which focuses on Mt Taranaki's eruptive history, how we can prepare ourselves for an eruption and what actions we should take during and following one. Stream studies are popular with school groups visiting the mountain and there are a number of short walks available where students can learn about weather stations, seismometers, mountain landmarks etc. Many school groups use me as a part of a three-lesson rotation in combination with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and other groups.
The Council operates a number of bus services in our region. We have personnel available who talk to classes about these services.
Most of the activities listed are supported by study units which can be downloaded from this website or are available on request.
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