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Ficino School–15 November 2022

November 17, 2022

Today a great group of Year Six students from Ficino School in Auckland visited CUE Haven for a fun day of learning.  This was the eighth year that teacher Ashley Geddis has brought her students out to CUE Haven for a day of outdoor education and it was great to have her back with her students after the two year break due to the Covid disruptions.

The group arrived shortly after ten and included 17 students, teacher Ashley and parents Chao, Lisa H and Lisa L.

We got acquainted over morning tea, and Mahrukh gave an overview about CUE Haven and explained the benefits of tree planting to the environment and water quality.

Thomas then told them about the different activities they would be doing today and how to keep safe in the field.  The plan for the day was for the students to do a variety of activities which would help them learn about nature and how they can help protect it. 


The first activity was waicare in which the students would learn about issues affecting water quality in the CUE Haven stream and downstream in the Kaipara Harbour. The students walked out to Wahi Matauranga, an area where we have outdoor meetings and learning sessions. Thomas collected water samples from the stream and explained to the students that they would be testing clarity of the water to assess silt levels, testing water temperature, oxygen, phosphates, nitrates and pH levels and examining water samples to identify macroinvertebrates—the tiny animals that live in streams.  The amount and diversity of animal life is an indicator of the health of the waterway.

Water clarity testing involved looking through a tube filled with stream water and measuring the distance light can penetrate to see how much silt and other material is suspended in the water.  Many aquatic creatures cannot thrive in cloudy water.

The clarity test tube was filled with water from the stream. Thomas demonstrated how to check for the water clarity and the students teamed up to conduct several tests and the results of the individual tests were averaged.

The students also did tests to check the water temperature, oxygen levels and pH levels and Thomas discussed what the results meant.  The results all indicated that the water quality in the stream at CUE Haven is very good.

Taking the temperature:

Testing for dissolved oxygen:

Checking the phosphate, nitrate and pH levels:

The students then broke into five small groups. Each group had a tray filled with stream water, spoons and magnifying lenses and a chart that would help them identify macroinvertebrates.

The students found a variety of macroinvertebrates and we were happy to see that many of the creatures the students found are sensitive to water quality and are not found in polluted streams.

Nature Walk

Thomas then took the group for a walk in the bush.  Before starting out, he again gave a safety briefing and talked a little bit about what they would see on the walk.

During the walk, Thomas pointed out some of the different planting areas to show the students how the trees were growing.  We took a walk in the wetlands and Thomas explained how the plantings had helped water quality in both the CUE Haven stream and downstream in the Araparera River and the Kaipara Harbour.

As we continued our walk through the bush, the students got a chance to see many different native trees.

They also learned about the pest control at CUE Haven that helps with the regeneration of the native bush – and even got to see a rat freshly caught in one of the traps!!

One of the things we want the students to learn at CUE Haven is the importance of slowing down and connecting with nature and appreciating the natural world.

At the halfway point on the walk, Thomas asked the students to stop, be still, close their eyes and focus on their breath for ten seconds.  He then asked them to do it again but this time to concentrate on what they were hearing, feeling and smelling and to experience nature with their eyes closed.

The students also got a chance to look out over the Araparera River and Kaipara Harbour and they could observe the connection between the CUE Haven waterways and the harbour and better appreciate how improving water quality at CUE Haven was helping the harbour.

The walk ended in the wetlands and the students had a chance to see the differences between wetland and non-wetland plants.

Sustainable Living

After lunch, Mahrukh had the students do an interesting activity about resource depletion to help the students better appreciate how to conserve our planet’s resources.

The students broke into three groups.  Each group had a bowl full of small stones and an empty bowl, a pair of chopsticks, a fork, a teaspoon and a tablespoon.  The students were told that they were to take turns moving the stones from one bowl to the other, the first person was to use only the chopsticks, the second the teaspoon, the third the fork, the fourth the tablespoon and the last person could scoop up stones with their whole hand.

Mahrukh counted time as the students worked on moving the stones.

The groups finished almost at the same time and the last one or two students in each group had no stones to remove.

Mahrukh asked the students who didn’t get a chance to move any stones to say how they felt. That generated some interesting talk about being considerate and including everyone in activities.

Mahrukh then asked the students to imagine that the stones represented the Earth’s natural resources and the chopsticks, forks and spoons represented the technical progress that has enabled humans to use resources more rapidly over the ages. She discussed how excessive use of all our natural resources would mean that there could be none left for future generations.

Although at first the students thought the activity was a game and the objective was to empty the bowls as quickly as possible, they realized the importance of what the stones represented and the risk to future generations of over consumption.  

The students briefly discussed what they could do individually and as a society to reduce consumption, conserve resources and care for each other and our planet. The students will continue this discussion further in school with teacher Ashley as part of their studies on Caring for our Planet.

It was a great day of learning and exploring and we want to thank Ashley and the accompanying parents for helping out today and helping to make the day so special. 

And a BIG thank you to the students!  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you and hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.  We are always impressed at how polite, enthusiastic and engaged Ficino students are.  We hope you will come back to CUE Haven for a fun visit with your families to explore more of CUE Haven.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Gabriele permalink
    November 17, 2022 7:38 pm

    What a fabulous example of teaching children effectively about the impact they can have on nature and the world. You’re doing an amazing job here leaving impressive marks for future generations. So admirable.

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