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Otaki College – Deborah Hadlum

2016 | Ecology of urban spaces and pest control

SchoolOtaki College

HostSchool of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington 

Region: Wellington

Otaki College has a junior and senior school, the junior being years seven to ten. The college wants to strengthen the understanding of the Nature of Science in the junior school and create a seamless education. The school already have a teacher in the senior school who has a gone through the programme and is working through phase 2 (Dawn Hirschberg).  The school believes that stronger links with scientists and science organisations provide our students with authentic scientific experiences. By having this leadership in science in the junior school,  the programme supports is more likely to embed  the principles of the Nature of Science.

Deborah has thirteen years experience of primary teaching at intermediate level. Teaching in a college environment has given her the opportunity to teach option subjects across the whole syndicate, which include a wide range of abilities and a mix of Maori and Pakeha. For the last three years,  she has taught Horticultural Science and has created her own programme, which has cross-curriculum objectives.

Deborah has been hosted by Victoria University, in the Biological Science department. Her placement has involved participation with the research and activities of the students who are working on ecological management of alternative pest control ideas. There has be opportunities to watch and experience laboratory work, construct resources, attend lectures on  ecological issues, assist in field trials, maintain research animals and access the library to develop her own horticultural programme.

One of the highlights of Deborah’s placement has been fieldtrips to test new designs of rat traps and different combinations of food lures. Some of these trips have taken her into areas of bush that are not open to the general public. The scale of the mission to eradicate pests was something that has had a profound effect on Deborah.

Deborah was also made aware of the challenges of research and how variables beyond the control of Scientists in a natural environment can question evidence. Results often just created more questions. These were important factors that she will take back to the classroom.

One of Deborah’s main jobs was to maintain a wild colony of rats and possums. The care for these animals was very precise and consistent. Deborah had to attend an Animal Ethics workshop to work with these animals. This gave Deborah another perspective on animal research and how Scientists see these pests.

Deborah has had an amazing journey during this programme. Apart from the knowledge and experiences that she has gained from working with Victoria University and attending the professional devleopment workshops, she has embarked on her own self-discovery. She looks forward to taking this knowledge back to Otaki College and using it to inspire students about their own learning.  Deborah would like to thank the Royal Society of New Zealandfor allowing her to have this unique opportunity.