Explore as a

Share our content

Central Takaka – Shaun Bryant

2017 | Water, Science and Society

SchoolCentral Takaka School


Region: Nelson

Central Takaka is a two teacher rural school with a commitment to developing students as confident, connected, creative lifelong learners. Through Shaun's participation in the Science Teaching Leadership Programme, Central Takaka School hopes to gain a strong connection with the local science community and enhance its links with other schools in the area. The school aspires to have a greater development of the Nature of Science integrated within the curriculum that engages and enhances our students understanding about, and passion for, science.  It is anticipated that meaningful professional development opportunities for the schools’ staff and for teachers within our local College of Learning (CoL) will be enriched through this programme.

Central Takaka’s vision is to develop a high degree of scientific literacy in an engaging way for our students and the community. The goal is to have a science curriculum driven by the Nature of Science approach, which links real world applications within the local and wider community through strong connections with a range of organisations.

Shaun Bryant teaches Year 3-6 at Central Takaka School, a two-teacher country school in Golden Bay. He has been teaching for 10 years and started his career in Dunedin before moving to Nelson after completing his full registration. A few years teaching Year 3-4 was followed by a move to Yukon Canada, where his wife hails from.  Teaching in Canada’s north was an inspiring experience both culturally and physically (try taking a PE lesson in minus 20 degrees Celsius) and was where he first started developing his interest in upskilling himself in science education, which led to his participation on the Science Teaching Leadership Programme.

Shaun’s placement was in Nelson with Cawthron, New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation. Here he worked with a range of scientists in freshwater and salt water ecology, management, and aquaculture research including Mark Newton, Dana Clark, Anna Berthelsen and Alaric McCarthy. He was also involved with Cawthron’s educational outreach programme run by Cristina Armstrong.

His work in freshwater and salt water ecology helped him develop a wide understanding of how river and estuarine pollution impacts those environments.

In particular he developed a detailed understanding of the role of fine silt as a pollutant in rivers and how this promotes toxic algae blooms. He studied Nelson City’s reservoir and the pollution problems of heavy metals and warm water discharges it creates downstream for the Maitai River. Plus he assisted scientists set up multiple monitoring programmers in local estuaries where silt pollution was once again the focus.

But it wasn’t all fun field work for Shaun. He also spent several weeks helping PhD student Alaric McCarthy count scampi, a prawn like species that live at depth in New Zealand’s oceans, from deep sea trawling footage. This was part of project to help develop more sustainable scampi fishing practices, moving away from trawling to potting.

Beyond working on fascinating ecology projects Shaun got to attend many talks by leading scientists, in such diverse fields as statistical modelling of trout hunting behaviors and protein synthesis, which greatly added to his scientific knowledge.

Finally through these many experiences, combined with time for professional reading, Shaun developed a deep contextual understanding of the Nature of Science. He truly got an insight into what science is, how scientists work and even found himself at times thinking and behaving like a scientist.

With such a broad range of experiences Shaun is looking forward to taking his new understandings and applying them to education by working with his school, community and Cawthron contacts to create and implement a curriculum best suited to the needs of his students to help in their development as scientifically literate citizens.