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Enriching school visits

The Science Learning Hub has teamed up with Dunedin’s New Zealand Marine Studies Centre to develop a series of marine topic planners. The topic planners offer suggested pathways through some of the Hub’s marine resources and connect to relevant programmes offered by the Centre. The topic planners are useful for classes going on any marine-themed field trip.

You can download the Marine topic planners from the Unit plans and planners collection in the Teacher Ideas area.


The programmes that we run here at Portobello are very much hands on. They’re giving students the opportunity to work with live animals, look at the natural habitat, use some scientific equipment. It’s sparking their interest, but what’s really important is that they have material to feed that interest back in the classroom, so the Hub has been very, very relevant in that capacity.

Because it’s hard to get space at the aquarium, I had to come on this day, I couldn’t wait until I’d covered quite a bit of content, so our prep was a little bit of information from me in terms of vocabulary, and then I’ve pointed them to the sites on the Hub and then they could do a crash course on life in the sea, so they would have a bit of background knowledge before they got here.

I use it to recommend to teachers or students a way to get some visual information and idea about it with a personal face before they come or after they’ve been here.

The pattern that we’re looking at is zonation, so they have to know about the abiotic factors of the estuary, they have to know about biotic factors in the sea, and the Hub has a nice little context – Life in the Sea – and when you go to estuaries, there is tasks to make marine food webs, information on the species that you find in the estuaries, so it’s really, really perfect.

We put together some pathways that the teacher can enter the Hub at various points under the umbrella of those themes that link directly with the programmes that they’re doing here.

We teach a wide variety of programmes here, so we use the Hub just to make sure what we’re teaching is correct and up to date. It’s also good to know what schools are interested in and what they are learning at the moment, and we’ve found that the Hub usually has a pretty good finger on the pulse for that.

So which group would like to go first and tell us what kind of industry they were looking at and how it uses water? Oh, lots of volunteers, but your hand was up first.

You need water to wash away the rocks to find the gold, and the miners need water to survive.

This topic was on the water cycle, and there’s a topic on the Learning Hub on H2O to Go, and we’re trying out the thinking tools at the moment – looking at a future issue of whether freshwater is always going to be available. I showed a video on the acidification of the ocean. Knowing there’s scientists around in Dunedin studying those things is good for the students.

Before a school comes to visit, we send out previsit material, which has some background information, links to other places where they can go and do research, so that’s another way that we use the Science Learning Hub. So it helps to create a bit of context before they come here and after they, they come here as well, so the activities in that and in what the Hub provide are going to help to give that background knowledge just to enrich their experiences here, which is really valuable.