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Dawson School - Nicholas Pattison

2015 | Mighty mites – Investigating mite lifespan factors

SchoolDawson School

HostLandcare Research


Nicholas Pattison has been an active member at Manaaki Whenua otherwise known as Landcare Research, Auckland for the past six months. During his time he has worked with Dr. Zhi-Qiang Zhang a distinguished expert on mites and specifically how the life-span of mites changes with the amount of food in their environment. Dr. Zhi-Qiang Zhang was a warm host who openly shared his wealth of scientific knowledge with Nicholas.

During this time, Nicholas worked with PhD students from all over the world in the lab and had the opportunity to breed mites and observe their behavior. The outcomes of which will hopefully be published shortly. In addition, he worked with Stanley Bellgard a leading authority on the monitoring of Phytophthora taxon Agathis (PTA) commonly referred to as Kauri Die-back in New Zealand. Students from Nicholas’ school worked with two engineers from Fisher & Paykel (Laura & Sarah) to redesign the devices used in the process of stream baiting. They received help from Ross, a laboratory technician at AUT’s Colab where he modeled the student’s designs in CAD and then printed them using their industrial 3D printers. Afterwards, the students got to place these devices in the Waitakere Ranges down-stream from a Kauri Tree strand with Stanley Bellgrad a Landcare Researcher. This project led to the awarding of a Nation of Curious Minds grant to continue the project for the following year as well as a new unknown taxonomy similar in nature to Kauri Die-back. As a result, Nicholas presented his work at the 2015 Biodiversity Bonanza to a crowd of biodiversity experts, one of which grilled him with questions!

Nicholas has had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Executive Education Leadership Course at the University of Otago, Dunedin to further develop his leadership abilities to be applied when he returns to his school. He participated in a variety of science teaching workshops and professional development sessions. Nicholas also visited many schools across the country and had the opportunity to teach at several of these schools at different year and student ability levels. He spent many hours reading the latest in educational research leading to lively debates with fellow participants about the nature of science and the teaching of science.

Nicholas is extremely grateful to his hosts at Landcare Research who were so welcoming and willing to share their knowledge. He would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Science Teacher Leadership Programme, funded by the New Zealand Government and administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and thank them for this amazing opportunity.