Year 13 students value mussel workshops at Cawthron Aquaculture Park  

10 July 2024


Can you attach tiny heart rate monitors to adult Kuku (Green Lipped Mussels) and count their heart beats in different temperatures of seawater? Yes, you can!  This and many other intriguing questions have recently been investigated by Year 13 biology and agriculture students at Cawthron Aquaculture Park.

More than 80 ākonga (students) and kaiako (teachers) from Nelson College for Girls, Nayland and Waimea Colleges, Te Kura Correspondence School, and Murchison, Kaikōura and Takaka High Schools participated in two-day workshops, where they were immersed in the real world of marine science research and the aquaculture industry in Te Tauihu. To carry out their investigations, ākonga had access to equipment not available in schools and support from mentors and research scientists who shared their expert knowledge and career pathways. This was appreciated by students and reflected in feedback. According to one student, “This was a really valuable experience, getting a chance to work alongside and with the guidance of experienced people who are ready to help us”.

The annual two-day workshops are a great example of how our local organisations collaborate to provide local rangatahi with learning opportunities that are not always available in the classroom. Another student commented that they “were able to talk to knowledgeable people and with use equipment I’ve never seen or heard of in a safe and friendly space and ask questions and trial ideas”.

Cawthron has been offering the workshops to schools throughout the region for many years. It is led by NZ Marine Studies Centre (University of Otago) and supported by Cawthron staff, NMIT Aquaculture Department and SPATnz. The mussels are generously donated by Sanfords NZ. The value of this programme was again highlighted in ākonga feedback: “This programme has been valuable as it extended my knowledge in aquaculture and made me realise the many opportunities there are within marine science’ and ‘Amazing, completely worthwhile. Helped cement my desire to work in the marine conservation/aquaculture field.”

Other student feedback this year included:

  • ‘This programme is very valuable, it sparked my interest in science/questioning things’
  • ‘Very useful for building confidence, independence and inspiration’
  • ‘I learned a lot about the scientific process and the aquaculture industry’
  • ‘I learned lots and have more ideas for my future career path’
  • ‘Valuable to see/experience what jobs in the industry may actually be like’
  • ‘Useful for university knowledge and preparation’
  • ‘Very cool to have the opportunity to do lots of hands-on stuff’
  • ‘This programme has a lot of value and is a great learning experience’
  • ‘Nice to get out of the classroom and do some practical hands-on work’
  • ‘Very interesting and a good experience into possible careers in science. Also a chance to learn things I wouldn’t in school’
  • ‘The support provided by the staff was incredible’
  • ‘It is a very good hands-on programme that gets you thinking’

Please contact if you would like information on participating in future Year 13 Mussel Biology Workshops. 

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