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Hororata Primary School - Amanda Cullen

2023 | Minibeast, Arthropod & Invertebrate Discovery Exhibition.


Name: Amanda Cullen

School: Hororata Primary School

Programme: Minibeast, Arthropod & Invertebrate Discovery Exhibition

Region: Malvern, Canterbury

Host: Lincoln University Department of Pest Management and Conservation

Hororata Primary School will benefit from Amanda Cullen’s participation in the Science Teaching Leadership Programme in a number of ways. She will highlight the importance of Science in her school’s curriculum; will enhance teaching and learning of Science; will strengthen the leadership structure within the kura and will enable staff to unpack Science as a key element of the school’s localised ‘Discovery’ Curriculum.

Amanda will work with the Principal to strengthen and extend the school’s ‘Discovery’ Learning model. She will complete a comprehensive review, develop and implement changes to the school’s Science Curriculum, including content, delivery, pedagogy, links to vision and relationship to the school’s ‘Discovery’ Learning model. Amanda will lead professional learning and development (PLD) on Science with whānau and teaching personnel. She will work collaboratively with other kura in the Hororata learning community i.e., early learning, primary and secondary, to improve the quality of teaching and learning across the pipeline.

Amanda has had 13 years primary teaching experience. During this time, she has had the opportunity to teach children from a diverse range of abilities and cultural backgrounds. She has a background in STEAM education and has completed her Master’s in Contemporary Education. Amanda is passionate about developing learner’s engagement, curiosity, knowledge and understanding of science through hands-on real life science experiences.

Amanda was placed under the supervision of Cor Vink at Lincoln University's Department of Pest Management and Conservation. During her placement, Amanda became a part of the biodiversity and insect ecology cohort, consisting of second and third-year students. The combined learning objective of these courses was to develop an understanding of biodiversity's essence and its significance to both the natural world and humanity. This included comprehending the roles that representative organisms play in maintaining functional and healthy environments within ecosystems.

Amanda had the opportunity to actively participate in her learning by attending field trips and engaging in bio-labs. By working alongside her peers, she was able to observe and experience the principles and practices of the Nature of Science. Amanda contributed to investigations by assisting in data collection and analysis. Specifically, she focused on exploring the roles of various invertebrates in ecosystem functioning, deepening her understanding of their contributions to maintaining ecological balance. Amanda discovered that the university used the evidence gathered by students during the annual field trips to monitor environmental and water quality changes in all the areas they visited.

During her placement, Amanda gained valuable knowledge and skills related to the five capabilities of science. One of her learning experiences involved collaborating with a third-year student whose research focused on how aquatic invertebrates can indicate water quality. To ensure a comprehensive investigation, they collected samples from both a beech forest and a grass area within the same river. One of the professors joined them to oversee the experiment, ensuring it was controlled and conducted fairly.

The student's experiment involved several important steps. They measured and marked each area, recorded factors such as temperature, sunlight, forest canopy, and weather conditions, all before collecting specimens. Highlighting the importance of accuracy, the student personally kicked the water and collected the specimens. Detailed records were important, with every action being recorded, photographed, and accompanied by the location, time, and the students name on a piece of paper. All specimens were then carefully stored in vials.

By carrying out comprehensive data collection, the student’s goal was to capture any changes in variables that could potentially impact the research results. Amanda actively participated in this process, learning various investigative approaches such as classifying and identifying invertebrates, as well as understanding the significance of conducting fair tests.

The Science Teaching Leadership Programme has provided Amanda with an exciting and amazing professional development experience. Now equipped with this valuable scientific knowledge, Amanda can return to her classroom and effectively teach her students how to carry out scientific investigations with confidence and skill.

She would like to thank the Royal Society, Dr. Cor Vink and Lincoln University's Department of Pest Management and Conservation both professors and students for their time and expertise.