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Welcome Bay School - Julia Bishop

2021 | Sustainability in Tauranga Moana

School: Welcome Bay School 

Region: Tauranga, Bay of Plenty

Host: Coastal Marine Field Station, University of Waikato, Tauranga 

Welcome Bay School in Tauranga believes that science needs to be practical, taught within a meaningful context and driven through the children by the process of inquiry/discovery. The school encourages students to engage in real life experiences that capture their fascination and contextualise learning across the curriculum. The students see themselves as kaitiaki and science has been a focus through which they can make a difference. The nature of science objectives and capabilities enhance the students’ ability to engage in the world around them, and help them approach and understand ‘the what’, ‘the how’ and ‘the why’ questions that they naturally ask.

Julia has taught at Welcome Bay for 12 years, mainly in the junior area and has been part of the science team for the last 3 years. She loves teaching science at this level due to the enthusiasm the tamariki show towards the natural world as they eagerly take on the idea of themselves as scientists. This has been an exciting time to be part of our school’s science journey. Katreena Daniels, a participant in STLP in 2017, has been a driver for integrating science through the curriculum and supporting teachers in developing their science practice. The school has seen several positive changes to achievement and engagement in science. Julia has also been involved in estuary monitoring through Discovery through Nature with a science extension group at Welcome Bay School. As the second teacher on the programme, she looks forward to continuing with the understanding and development of science capabilities at school and sharing her experiences.

Julia has been based at the University of Waikato’s Coastal Marine Field Station in Tauranga where she was involved with several research and educational projects. She experienced a diverse range of field trips with students and faculty which had the common theme of sustainability and environmental health. Julia had the opportunity to attend some Marine Science and Aquaculture lectures and learnt about factors affecting ecosystem health and biodiversity such as climate change and biofouling.

A highlight was the opportunity to take part in toheroa research surveys in Te Tai Tokerau alongside local iwi. This involved three days at Matihetihe Marae working with transect lines and random sampling on the beach. Other projects involved cockle research and working with incubation chambers in Tauranga Moana to isolate certain variables. A  field trip in Te Puke involved sampling local fresh water algae in streams, rivers, ponds and treatment plants, this was part of research to find ways to clean contaminants in water with algae. She had the opportunity to observe their growth in the labs and in the algae ponds as the scientists attempted to discover which specimens would thrive under certain conditions. Another trip North was focussed around snorkelling to gather seaweed for a project to reduce methane emissions in cows. The programme has provided Julia with a unique opportunity to learn about some of the important projects going on in marine science to address some serious environmental issues and to learn about the scientific processes being used. 

These and many more experiences enabled her to see the Nature of Science in action. The students, technicians or faculty collaborate on each other’s projects, providing support, physical help and critiques. They ask probing questions and make suggestions about methods and variables. These are skills and capabilities Julia will be able to share with her students and she has made some useful contacts whose expertise she can draw on.

Her experiences at the field station have enriched her science understanding along with professional development around leadership and teaching science. She has also had opportunities to develop some understanding about how Mātauranga Māori connects to modern science and how she can incorporate this into her classroom programme.

Julia would like to thanks Dr Phil Ross and the students and faculty at the field station for hosting her and the Royal Society Te Apārangi for providing her with this amazing opportunity.