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Makauri School - Karen Peake

2015 | Water quality in the Taruheru river

SchoolMakauri School

HostNga Mahi Te Taiao


Karen spent her placement under the guidance of Environmental Scientist Murray Palmer, the director of Nga Mahi TeTaiao Ltd. She worked as part of a research team investigating and recording the quality and biological condition of representative freshwater ecosystems throughout the Gisborne Tetairawhiti region.

Karen’s work with Murray Palmer involved the following:

  • The use of field equipment to gather physico-chemical data (temperature, pH, nutrients, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, clarity)
  • Gathering biological information (fish, invertebrates, periphyton, macrophytes) and resultant laboratory work, data entry and analysis techniques.
  • The use of a plating technique to test for the presence of E.coli in local waterways
  • Assisting in the development of a freshwater monitoring programme for the Taruheru River, especially from Tarere back to Waihirere. This area is of particular significance to Karen as it is part of her school’s backyard and of great interest to her school and the local community.

Karen’s work with Murray increased her understanding of how patterns and trends—as well as using measurable indicators—can show evidence of stream health in her local community area, as well as the principles of aquatic ecology and practical assessment techniques.

Karen has developed a clearer understanding of the ‘Nature of Science’ through her host experiences, and has developed a contextual understanding of how the Nature of Science presents in the real world. The hands-on approach of the fellowship, combined with her previous experience as a laboratory technician, has given her a sound foundation in the practical side of scientific research.  Karen witnessed the application of the five capabilities, and appreciated the uniformity in scientific process, which allowed her a greater understanding of the scientific world and how it can be successfully integrated into a classroom setting.

Karen’s experiences in the Leadership Programme were likewise invaluable, and encouraged her personal growth as an educational leader. Enhanced self-awareness and an understanding of her leadership style will be instrumental in aiding the successful implementation of a new science programme at Makauri School.

Karen would like to thank the Royal Society of New Zealand for this wonderful opportunity. She would also like to express her gratitude to Murray and Amy for all of the time, knowledge, patience and commitment they have put into her fellowship experience.