Murrays Bay Intermediate School–24 July 2014
Today a group of twenty-six students from Murrays Bay Intermediate School in Auckland came out for a day of planting and learning. This is the fourth time sustainability teacher David Walker has brought out a group of students and it was great to see some familiar faces and meet some new students as well.
Also joining us were teachers Mrs. Jung-Hee Kwan and Alison Lamb from Murrays Bay Intermediate; Shelly Hackett and Sophie Tweedle, Auckland Council’s Waicare educators and Morag Vasilaki, Auckland Council’s Environmental Sustainability educator.
The students arrived at ten and we started off with morning tea. Nestle NZ had generously supplied hot chocolate for the young students and it was much appreciated by all on a cold winter morning.
Mahrukh then gave a quick overview of the CUE Haven project for the benefit of the new students and description of the plan for the day.
Because the students would be in the field planting Tom gave an explanation of the planting process and a safety briefing.
We had previously taken up the plants and equipment to the planting site and the group made a short hike up to the site. On the way, they passed an area that Murrays Bay students had planted last year and David showed them how the plants had grown and also talked about different kinds of weeds that grow up in planting sites and how some weeds are very harmful but some can actually be beneficial for the small trees because they provide shelter from the sun and wind.
Once they got to the site, the group went to work. The students worked in teams with one person digging while the other person planted and then swapped tasks mid way through the morning.
While digging in the moist soil the students found plenty of worms!
It was perfect weather for planting everyone enjoyed being out and getting dirty.
In under an hour the students planted over 100 trees – a fantastic effort!! And when they were finished they picked up all the pots and trays and cleaned the equipment.
And then they went down to get cleaned up for lunch.
And enjoyed a stretchy dessert!
The after lunch activities were a WaiCare session with Shelley and Sophie and a sustainability session with Morag. David divided the students into two groups which would alternate doing the two activities so that everyone had a chance to do both.
Shelley and Sophie had previously collected water samples from two areas in the streams at CUE Haven and set up their presentation in the nursery. They started with a discussion about the importance of water care and how farming practices and human activity can affect water quality.
The students learnt how to test water quality and participated in testing the water samples for temperature, pH levels, dissolved oxygen and clarity. Shelly and Sophie explained why each of those factors is important to water quality and maintaining healthy waterways.
Shelley’s water sample had been collected from a sheltered pool in the mid catchment while Sophie had collected the water sample from the pond downstream, so the students had the opportunity to compare results from the different sites and discuss how the shade provided by the trees we have been planting was affecting the water quality.
The water samples collected had some vegetation, which is a habitat for pond creatures, known as macroinvertebrates, that live in them.
Shelly and Sophie showed charts describing the creatures they might see and the students used the charts and magnifying glasses to see what they could identify.
Morag had prepared a programme for the students that traced the environmental history of New Zealand from the time the first people arrived. She started with a timeline going back to 1000 AD.
Next she showed the major milestones of human habitation in New Zealand and also described the creatures that arrived along with the humans. She showed maps of how the arrival of introduced species took its toll on the plant and animal life in New Zealand.
She also talked about indigenous animals that have become extinct because of predators and had the students determine when and why those extinctions happened.
Once the students had a perspective of the impact of humans and other introduced species, Morag asked them to come up with ideas about what they can do to protect endangered native wildlife.
When both groups of students had done both activities it was time to head back to town.
We want to thank David for organising today’s visit and for his continued interest and support of the CUE Haven project. It’s always a pleasure to have Murrays Bay Intermediate students out! And thank you to Mrs. Kwan and Alison for coming along to help out.
And many thanks to Morag, Shelley and Sophie for their wonderful presentations and we’d also like to thank Auckland Council for enabling the visits of their educators and their support of our efforts to make CUE Haven a place for learning.
And most of all we’d like to thank the Murrays Bay students. Thank you very much for your efforts with the tree planting – you have made a major contribution to our planet. We really enjoyed having you out and hope you had a fun educational day. We look forward to having you back out with your family and friends so you can see how your trees are growing.