Lakes380 science education programme now universally accessible

23 March 2023

A Lakes380 education workshop successfully introduced into Nelson-Tasman schools has evolved into new teaching resources that are freely accessible to school teachers and students across Aotearoa.

The Science Learning Hub – Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao has just launched a suite of resources featuring the Lakes380 project jointly led by Cawthron Institute and GNS Science over the last five years. The Lakes380 project saw scientists sampling 10% of the 3,800 lakes in Aotearoa to understand their histories and explore how our lakes can be better protected in the future.

Realising that lake restoration is a multi-generational journey, scientists last year began rolling out an education workshop for Nelson-Tasman students as part of the Lakes380 project. The response was so positive the team enlisted support from the Science Learning Hub to go national with it.

Science Learning Hub content developer Angela Schipper was impressed by what she saw.

“The science alone makes for exciting new resources but what sets this programme apart is the outreach that has accompanied all facets of the research. Lakes380 draws upon both scientific and mātauranga Māori knowledge systems.”

The school workshops saw students engage in three different activities – extracting DNA, hunting for pollen in a sediment core and fishing for environmental DNA. These demonstrate the tools and techniques used by researchers working on the Lakes380 project.

“These innovative workshops provided enaging and authentic opportunities for students to learn about the nature of science and put their own science capabilities into action in the classroom,” Angela said.

The Lakes380 content on the Science Learning Hub includes four activities and various other resources that teachers can draw upon to develop an array of science capabilities while also advancing students’ thinking, visioning and problem-solving skills. It also includes an animated video produced by science communications student Iona Rachilde while undertaking a summer internship at Cawthron funded by Te Pūnaha Matatini.

GNS scientist and Lakes380 co-leader Marcus Vandergoes said he hoped the teaching resources would inspire the next generation of lake kaitiaki in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We’re on a long journey to restore the mauri of our lakes, so the sooner we get people engaged in this kaupapa – the better.”

Cawthron scientist and Lakes380 co-leader Susie Wood said the resources provided a lasting legacy for the Lakes380 programme.

“To think that tamariki will be using this content in classrooms around Aotearoa for the next decade, or more, is just mind-blowing!”

Cawthron scientist and Lakes380 researcher Jonathan Puddick led the roll-out of the education workshops to more than 250 primary and intermediate students in Nelson-Tasman over the last 18 months, and assisted the Science Learning Hub team to transform the Lakes380 science into digestable education material.

“The students have been so engaged with learning more about their lakes and thinking about how they want their lakes to look in 100-years’ time. To work with the Science Learning Hub to take this mahi to all of Aotearoa has just been amazing.”

Jonathan reflected on how the future visions for lakes from the Nelson-Tasman schools included ideas like more good swimming spots, lots of fish, tuna (eels) and kōura, more trees to provide shade and suck up excess nutrients, no algal blooms, and even a tale where the taniwha returned to the lake once its mauri was restored.

“Imagine the positive impact we can have for lakes in Aotearoa once everyone is thinking along the same lines as these rangatahi.”

Shellfish Tower
Image: Cawthron Institute. Cawthron scientist Jonathan Puddick (JP) shares the Lakes380 education workshop with tamariki at Victory School in Nelson.
Video: Cawthron Institute. This is one of the Lakes380 education resources available on the Science Learning Hub website. The video was written, produced and animated by science communications student Iona Rachilde while undertaking a summer internship at Cawthron funded by Te Pūnaha Matatini.
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