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Christchurch Girls' High School - Suzanne Passchier

2020 | Environmental Science - Sampling science in action

School: Christchurch Girls' High School/Te Kura o Hine Waiora 

Host: Environment Canterbury (Ecan)

Region: Canterbury 

Christchurch Girls’ High School/Te Kura o Hine Waiora has a rich history of achievement in the field of science. The science learning area understands that the content taught in the classroom must have connections to authentic contexts outside of the classroom if it is to lead to powerful learning and engagement. For a number of years, the science learning area has attempted to make links to various contexts and the Nature of Science strand of the curriculum. It is hoped that having Suzanne participate in the Science Teaching Learning Programme (STLP) will enable the science learning area to take the next step in implementing a rich and diverse curriculum with the Nature of Science at the heart of what it does.

Suzanne has been teaching science and chemistry for the last 20 years at Christchurch Girls’ High School. During this time, she has taught a diverse range of students from junior science to senior chemistry. She has a background in industry having previously worked as an analytical chemist before becoming a secondary school teacher. Suzanne is passionate about the environment and would like to bring real science and authentic learning experiences into the classroom so that students feel empowered to take action and make well-informed decisions for a positive future. 

Suzanne has been hosted by Justin Cope at Environment Canterbury (ECan) and her host placement has involved her working alongside their Environmental Scientists. She has attended many field trips where she participated in the collection of data that enabled ECan to report on air quality and river and estuary health. She has had many discussions involving the techniques that are employed to process the collected data and has seen this process right through to the presentation of this data on the ECan website. Suzanne also attended several seminars including data week and a biosecurity webinar series which featured a workshop on leadership. She has worked with the Youth Engagement Team which was focused on improving a climate change resource developed for primary schools. She participated in a collaborative project with Christchurch City Council, the University of Canterbury and ECan which involved the development of a citizen science project. This project involved members of the public taking photos of the coast line which were then used to help the scientists at ECan understand how coastal erosion occurs on a local scale.

One of the highlights of Suzanne’s placement at ECan was observing the environmental monitoring process from start to finish. She has been involved in field work, data processing and reporting which is then presented on their website for public use. From this, Suzanne has gained a comprehensive knowledge of how the environment is monitored. This has allowed her to gain a better understanding of the environmental monitoring process and how it can be applied in the classroom. She will now be able to speak authentically to students and be able to engage students in real world science contexts.

Being a part of the Science Teaching Leadership Programme has allowed Suzanne to build a network of teachers from across New Zealand who all have the same goals and passion for engaging students in authentic science learning. Suzanne has also been able to network with primary and secondary teachers in her local area. She has been able to visit other host organisations and get an insight into the science research conducted at other science institutions in the Canterbury region. In addition to this, she has also been able to visit many different local schools and has enjoyed robust conversations around the nature of science, science capabilities and the similarities and differences between primary and secondary science pedagogy.