Hamilton East School - Edie Fisher
2019 | The North Island's volcanic heritage
School: Hamilton East School
Host: University of Waikato, Earth Science Department
As an Enviro school Hamilton East School places high importance on their learners’ understanding the link between science and the current environmental issues that they face as a school, within a wider community and globally. Hamilton East School knows science can engage and hook in all learners, and they want to use this to raise their learners’ scientific awareness and capability. Through relevant and meaningful contexts the school encourages their students to develop the perception and understanding that science is fundamental to the future, exciting and accessible to them all.
The Science Teaching Leadership Programme has provided Edie with the skills and personal development to lead a science team in the school, to increase the confidence and knowledge of their teachers, integrating science through the Hamilton East School curriculum.
Edie has had 4 years’ primary teaching experience of students with a diverse range of backgrounds, ethnicities and learning and behaviour needs. She is driven by her passion to make learning successful and exciting to all her students. Through her interest in science teaching Edie is leading change within the school, motivated and inspired by what she has seen science can do for her learners. Edie understands the potential that science has to underpin learning across the curriculum in meaningful ways, and the platform it provides for authentic and relevant learning experiences that connect our learners to the world around them. She is particularly interested in exposing learners to an extensive range of practical, hands-on science experiences that can provoke and develop their interest and understanding of the Nature of Science. Edie has been working to raise the profile of science at Hamilton East School and broaden students’ understanding of what ‘science’ actually is. She is developing resources and providing support and practical ideas to teachers to build their knowledge and confidence. Edie is looking forward to being able to bring her learning from the Science Teaching Leadership Programme back to her school and developing a sustainable science programme that creates a generation of critical and scientific thinkers.
Edie was hosted by Dr Adrian Pittari in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Waikato. Her placement involved participating in lab and field-based volcanology research projects, attending volcanology and petrography lab sessions and lectures and carrying out her own geological research project.
While working with volcanologists on their research Edie became absorbed in the world of geosciences and gained an introductory understanding of the study of earth sciences. She assisted in a volcanology research process from initially identifying and collecting samples of volcanic rock in Napier, to processing and analysing the samples using a range of machines in the Waikato University laboratories, and finally using the Electron micro probe machine in Wellington for deep analysis. She assisted a Masters student in her research into ignimbrites in Ngaroma and participated in a drilling project in Karaka which confirmed the existence of a previously unknown volcano. This volcano is particularly interesting as it sits between two volcanic areas, the inactive South Auckland volcanic field and the active Auckland volcanic fields. Research continues in order to identify the age of the volcano and its previous eruption activity, which may influence current understanding of volcanic fields in the area.
Working alongside scientists on a daily basis has given Edie a deeper understanding of how the nature of science and the science capabilities connect and relate to real world science. She will use this understanding to inspire and support teachers in her school to lift the profile of science and improve students’ scientific literacy.
A highlight for Edie during her placement was putting into practice her learning about volcanology and carrying out her own geology project at Hamilton East Primary School. She researched the area and collected samples using techniques she had learnt. She processed the volcanic deposit into a form that can be observed under the microscope and used machines at the research facility for deep analysis. The results show evidence of volcanic products under the school and she will take this information and the research skills back to her classroom as a teaching tool.
These experiences combined with the leadership development course and the Nature of Science workshops have given Edie the confidence and knowledge to return to her school and make a real difference to the scientific engagement of the staff and students.
Special thanks go to Dr Adrian Pittari, Marlena Prentice, the Volcanology team at the University of Waikato and Royal Society Te Apārangi for all the support, encouragement and experiences they have provided.