Summary of River restoration: from mountains to sea | NZ teachers, enrol in this LEARNZ virtual field trip

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Summary Page: River restoration: from mountains to sea
Term 1 starting 31 March 2020.



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The mountainous backbone that sits across the westerly weather systems ensures that New Zealand has lots of rivers draining to the sea. In fact we have over 400,000kms of rivers, half of which flow through human modified environments such as farms, forests or urban areas. To iwi, rivers are taonga ('treasures') and are often central to their identity.

The state of our rivers has become a hot topic in recent years with nutrients, bacteria and sediment levels growing due to land use by humans. Many swimming sites, once safe, are now regularly unsafe for swimming. Indigenous fish species are becoming endangered.

What do we do? We restore them.

How do we do that? We work together.

On this field trip you will join the programme to restore our rivers. Kick-started by a government grant, iwi and communities are getting together with government agencies to begin new long term projects to make them healthy again. This trip is a river journey from the mountains to the sea exploring how rivers work, what makes them grubby and what we can do to make them right.

In preparation for this field trip, LEARNZ content will support inquiry into:

  • New Zealand's rivers
  • The intrinsic importance of rivers, and their importance to iwi and communities
  • River food webs
  • What makes a healthy river catchment
  • How rivers can become unhealthy
  • Scientific research about rivers and freshwater quality
  • Personal action
  • Community action
  • Recording living things on the iNaturalistNZ app
  • River scientists and rangers

During the field trip you will be able to:

  • Follow Shelley's tweets on twitter
  • Journey to find the source of the Waikanae River
  • Follow the Waikanae River all the way to the sea
  • Learn about iwi who are mana whenua for the River, and their role as kaitiaki
  • Assess the health of the river
  • Visit the drinking water supply plant
  • Get your feet wet and find out what lives in the river and its margins
  • Go swimming, fishing, tubing, rafting, kayaking on the river
  • Help scientists and other researchers with data gathering to estimate populations
  • Be a citizen scientist and find, catch, identify, classify, record, & release river organisms
  • Put questions to freshwater scientists, river rangers and community activists
  • See first-hand the threats that rivers face
  • Get involved in river restoration including pest trapping and planting.

After the field trip:

  • Plan a visit to your local river
  • Make a statement about or place your own value on New Zealand's rivers
  • Assess the health of your local river
  • Investigate qualifications and careers in freshwater and river science

The LEARNZ Team think that joining NZASE and staying connected through NZ Science Teacher will help you become a better teacher of science.

Teacher comments

"The field trip was a great way to hook the class into our Te Moana inquiry and the children loved it! LEARNZ is a super learning tool that links well in obvious and explicit ways to many aspects of the NZ Curriculum". Zoe Smith from Moturoa School

"We use material from completed field trips (Freshwater Ecology and Whio) on school camp at Tongariro which provides excellent, authentic, high motivation support for our Year 7 students and relates well to our similar interests in Taranaki. I certainly appreciate the quality of the online resources that LEARNZ have produced. Thanks very much to the LEARNZ team". Andrew McAllister from Sacred Heart Girls College New Plymouth.

"Because it was so interactive the children were 'hooked in' from the beginning. Listening comprehension was made to be fun as it was learning they were interested in. It covered everything we wanted to know and what we were learning about". Kylie Parkes from Waipahihi Schoo.

Go to more comments about Freshwater field trips.

Where you will go

Your river journey starts when you fly into Wellington and drive the 60km north to Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast. Waikanae in Māori means "waters of the mullet" and is home to the Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai iwi, who are mana whenua and kaitiaki of the River. The small town sits beside the lower reaches of the Waikanae River whose source is high up in the Tararua Ranges. The river has flooded in the past and it has faced a number of other threats that affect its waters. Research is an ongoing activity.

Learning Areas/Levels

Mathematics and Statistics: Number and Algebra Levels 2-4, Statistics Levels 2-4; Science: Living World Levels 2-4, Nature of Science Levels 2-4; Social Studies: Continuity and Change Levels 2-4, Place and Environment Levels 2-4; Technology Levels 2-4

  • Vision, Values, Key Competencies, Principles, Literacy and Numeracy

    By their nature, LEARNZ field trips integrate with the higher levels of the NZ Curriculum. Participation encourages development of the Key Competencies around Thinking, Using language, symbols and text, Managing self, Relating to others, and Participating and contributing. Teachers indicate this in testimonials. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Literacy, with opportunities to develop skills in Listening, Reading and Viewing and in Speaking, Writing and Presenting. More about LEARNZ as a Reading Resource and student writing opportunities with LEARNZ. Select LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Numeracy, encouraging the development of skills in Number and Algebra, in Statistics and in Geometry and Measurement.

  • ESOL

    As well as providing visual and audio material and access to real experiences, LEARNZ links well to ESOL Principles, especially Principle 3 Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes? Principle 4 Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

  • What's in a Field Trip

    Every LEARNZ field trip has its own newly-built, self-contained web site ready for integration into your teaching and learning programme. Teacher Support has curriculum integration, resources, newsletters, support and evaluation. Prepare Students provides opportunities for student inquiry on two sets of image-rich background pages at reading levels 2 years apart, (students can click to have those pages read to them out loud), online interactive and other activities to check students' understanding, and a glossary. During the field trip there are daily additions such as a diary, video clips, profiles of the experts (ideal careers education), a photo gallery, live tweets on twitter, and ambassador (mascot) page updates. Live web conferences on our enterprise-level Zoom platform scales to enable multiple teachers to manage students putting prepared and spontaneous questions to experts (recorded for replay). After the field trip, teachers are encouraged to take further action with their class in the community or to go on a related field trip, or to invite a guest speaker, or to present what they have learned to a school assembly or wider group. Teachers also fill in an online evaluation (more about reflective practice), the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.

  • How teachers use LEARNZ

    View some of over 1,000 teacher comments in testimonials. There are two main ways teachers use a LEARNZ virtual field trip with their class. Firstly, a LEARNZ field trip is ideally an immersive, engaging, synchronous, online learning experience with real-time components and a myriad of opportunities for teachers and students. Secondly, and less ideal but still effective, a LEARNZ field trip can be used as a retrospective experience where the resources such as photos, text, activities, videos and audioconferences/web conferences comprise a unique collection of authentic, contemporary New Zealand teaching and learning material.

  • What Now

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Shelley the LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher.

Meet Shelley, your LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher

Inquiry Topics: adaptations, biodiversity, biological communities, birds, changing values, citizen science, citizenship, coast, community involvement, conservation, data, data gathering, ecology, ecosystems, environment, environmental action, environmental impacts, fish, food webs, fresh water, fresh water environments, future focus, guardianship, habitat, human impacts, insects, invertebrates, kaitiaki, kaitiakitanga, land use, life cycle, monitoring change, native birds, native plants, native species, people and the environment, perspectives, pests, plants, restoration, rivers, science, scientific research, sustainability, threatened species, values, viewpoints, water, water cycle, water quality, Wellington

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