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Aquinas College - Joanne Macown

2015 | PSA - fact or fiction?

SchoolAquinas College

HostThe New Zealand Institute of Plant and Food Research – Te Puke

RegionBay of Plenty

Joanne is an experienced teacher of Science and Biology and is currently the Assistant Head of Science at Aquinas College in Tauranga. Always looking for new ways to engage students in Science, the Science Teaching Leadership Programme has provided inspiration as well as practical experiences that Joanne will take back to school next year to share with staff and students alike.

Joanne has been hosted by Dr Luis Gea and the Genetics, Breeding and Genomics team at Plant and Food Research in Te Puke. During her placement, she has been encouraged to experience the wide variety of tasks that contribute to the production of kiwifruit to meet consumer and industry demand. Her experiences have included pricking out seedlings, potting up larger plants, grafting, hand pollination, Psa monitoring, preparation of leaf samples for cytometric ploidy counting and observing the sensory testing of fruit. Through these experiences, she has come to the realisation that behind the ‘woohoo moment’, when a new cultivar is produced or a Psa tolerant plant is bred, there are hours/days/ months of tedious, repetitive work carried out by a large team of people. It is also clear to Joanne that careful observations, data collection and statistical analysis are necessary skills to have to work in a science based research facility.

Joanne says her most valuable learning experience has been recognising that scientists need to be innovative and creative. They have to be flexible enough to change direction based on their observations and data collected. New questions arise as they work towards answering earlier questions. They rethink and modify what they are doing regularly. Science is not always logical, systematic and content driven.  

Joanne would like to extend a big thank you to her host, Luis Gea for his guidance and support and for sharing his wealth of knowledge. She is also appreciative of all the staff at Te Puke Plant and Food Research who generously shared their time, expertise and enthusiasm. 

Joanne acknowledges the funding provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the administrative role of the Royal Society of New Zealand in providing the Science Teaching Leadership Programme. It has been an amazing, inspiring start to a journey that will continue when she returns to her school next year.