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Pauatahanui School - Sharon Gibson

2020 | Exploring marine and urban biodiversity

School: Pauatahanui School

Host: Victoria University of Wellington, School of Biological Sciences

Region: Wellington

Pauatahanui School is placed in a rich natural environment surrounded by remnant bush, a wildlife reserve and is on the shores of an estuary. The 2020-22 strategic plan clearly identifies engagement with nature as a key way to encourage curiosity and creativity, particularly in science. Students develop agency and collaboration through a contextualised, cross curricula local curriculum. Through participation in the Science Teaching Leadership Programme, the school will develop its teachers’ understanding of the Nature of Science and encourage partnerships with scientific partners in the community. 

Sharon has 12 years’ primary teaching experience in a range of diverse schools. She is passionate about teaching students in the junior school. She enjoys their curiosity and wonder about the world around them, which has allowed her to engage students in science through discovery, play and exploration. 

Sharon has been hosted by the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. During this time, she worked with scientists in laboratory and fieldwork in marine and terrestrial settings. Experiences have included quantifying marine species at local rocky shores, building an inventory of a tuatara population and cell development of kina embryos. A highlight for Sharon has been the field trip to Matiu/Somes Island where she worked with scientists on research using a mark-recapture method to gather data about territory patterns of translocated tuatara. Sharon gained valuable insight into the practical work of ecological scientists.

The Science Teaching Leadership Programme has provided Sharon an opportunity to develop her leadership skills to support development of her school Science programme. She will use her understanding and knowledge of the science capabilities to develop students' understanding of the Nature of Science in a hands-on approach developing curious, creative and critical thinkers. She returns as a passionate learner about New Zealand’s unique taonga and hopes to inspire students at her school about science and their local environment.

Sharon would like to thank Royal Society Te Apārangi and Professor Nicola Nelson from Victoria University of Wellington and her team for their support and encouragement during her placement.