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Fairfield College - Andrea Rodgers

2015 | Pest research of maize and brassicas.

SchoolFairfield College



Andrea Rodgers is a secondary trained teacher of junior science and senior biology. She has been teaching for seven years and enjoys working with students who need extra support in order to engage in science learning.

Her Science Teacher Leadership Placement is with Plant Protection at AgResearch, Hamilton. Andrea has learnt what it is that scientists do in the world of scientific research. She has been working alongside Dr Mike Wilson and his colleagues studying micro-invertebrates and pests in the soil. She is running experiments with the scientists and is learning as they learn.

Andrea has learnt how to identify the different species of slugs she has collected and analysed. The most common invasive slug in New Zealand being Deroceras reticulatum, which is a pale oatmeal colour. She has looked at the effect of slug damage on seed crops in the field and has learnt how to recognise and collect data on other agricultural pests that are present in core soil samples. She has spent time out in the field gathering data and learning the skills of collecting micro-invertebrates as well as core samples from the soil, for research purposes. Andrea has taken samples back to the laboratory where they can be sorted further, the micro-invertebrates were saved for observation and the nematode worms were looked at closer under the microscope. Andrea has leant that there are many different types of nematode worms in the soil. Some eat plants, some eat bacteria and some are carnivorous. She has learnt how to identify some of the nematode worms by their mouthparts and by the structure of their gut. She has placed nematode worms with galleria caterpillar to observe the effects of the worms on the caterpillars and she has extracted juvenile nematode worms released from caterpillars and slugs.

Andrea has had some involvement with what is required of the reporting process. She has attended Skype meetings where she has learnt the importance of sharing information and the ability to and importance of, sharing information with scientists in other countries. She has spoken to visiting scientists who have come to share their knowledge and to learn from the research conducted at Plant and Food. She was surprised to learn the importance scientists place on student work and their involvement with science and learning.

Andrea is looking forward to taking what she has learned at AgResearch and sharing that knowledge and understanding with her students, back at school. She would like to thank Dr Mike Wilson and his colleagues at Plant Protection, AgResearch for their inclusiveness and willingness to share their research skills and knowledge.