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Wakaaranga School – Lorraine Field

2016 | Unlocking curiosity around fungi and bugs

SchoolWakaaranga Primary School

HostLandcare Research / Manaaki Whenua


Wakaaranga School believes that science needs to be practical, taught within a meaningful context, and driven through student voice. This is reflected in their philosophy as a ‘Beyond Green Gold’ EnviroSchool, and embedded in the school curriculum. Lorraine Field will return to implement a science leadership role in the school that will strive to increase student engagement in science. Lorraine will support her colleagues in understanding the Nature of Science, and will forge links with science organisations within the school’s Auckland community.

Lorraine has 10 years of primary teaching experience. During this time, she has taught mainly in junior classes. She is a passionate and dedicated teacher who is driven and motivated by the students she teaches. Her goal is to ensure students from all different levels are being exposed to science throughout the school in an ongoing way. As a teacher, she believes being flexible and running with spontaneous moments is a valuable tool for any teacher. Since her time at Wakaaranga, Lorraine has been involved in a number of projects that are now student driven.  These include receiving the Healthy Gold Heart Foundation Certificate, introducing the Milk in Schools programme, running the S.T.E.M club, making the recycled greenhouse, which is used to raise seedlings for the school’s senses garden and introducing a produce trolley.

Lorraine has had a number of highlights during her placement at Landcare Research.  Working alongside the entomologists has strengthened her knowledge about insects and their crucial role in the living world, life processes, ecology and evolution.  She worked with Dr ZhiQuang Zhang who is an Acarologist.  She was also able to participate in a project which she was able to involve a group of her children from her school to collect soil samples from different areas around their school. The purpose behind it is to assist with targeting groups of importance in pest control and biodiversity in New Zealand.

Next year Lorraine wants to breed chrysomelid beetles (shiny, stripy, and bumpy) with her class. The main purpose for this is to control a weed called tradescantia, which overshadows and kills low-growing plants, including native tree seedlings that essential for forest regeneration. It is a hated weed found in suburban backyards, parks, and local areas where bush walks are, it also causes severe allergic reactions in dogs that walk in it. The three beetles work well together as one eats the roots, the other the stem and one eats the leaves.

As the team of Mycologists and Pathologists work closely together, she was able to accompany them on a field trip to the lower Hui Dam observe Kauri dieback. Kauri dieback is a microscopic ‘fungus-like plant disease (pathogen) it only affects Kauri and can kill seedlings and trees of all sizes. It is soil-borne species-spread by soil and water movement, plant to plant transmission through underground root to root contact, human and animal vectors. The government is to inject $4.7 million into a programme to help save kauri trees. It will take five years to carry out research into the detection and spread of kauri dieback and methods to control it. When Lorraine returns to school, she wants to make kauri dieback a whole school project to support the public awareness campaign.

Working with the Mycologists also interested her, especially the Curious Minds project, reacquainting Maori student indigenous knowledge of fungi. This is a brilliant way of connecting Maori students with nature so that they grow up knowing how their ancestors used fungi to carry fire, the fungal source for black pigmentation, for food and medicine. She wants to share this information as it will be aimed to stimulate lifelong learners. Lorraine hopes to create a resource that can be shared and with students and colleagues.

Lorraine cannot thank her host Landcare Research and the Science Teaching Leadership Programme enough. She has established a deeper and more professional understanding of the importance of teaching our children to become scientifically literate citizens. It has been an incredible learning journey for her and she looks forward to implementing what she has learned back into her school.