Over the last two weeks, GNS Science, with support from the Todd Foundation, the Royal Society of New Zealand, and  Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth, has been running a hands on immersion geology course for teachers and years 7 to 9 students from 5 Taranaki schools. 24 students and about 10 teachers participated in this “Power of the Planet” Geocamp which culminated in a geoscience expo at Puke Ariki, that was created and run by the participants.

Richard Levy (paleoclimate scientist) and Kyle Bland (petroleum geologist) helped lead the camp along with myself.  This  was the second such event that we have organised, following last years’ “Dinosaurs and Disasters” Geocamp in the Napier Aquarium.

The basic approach is that we encourage the participants to make very careful observations of a variety of rock outcrops and landforms at different field sites.

The video will give you an impression of the geological features that were researched by the participants:

Following each field trip, and with a series of guided questions and the use of simple models, the participants had to debate and interpret their findings to come up with understandings of the geological processes at work. This process of developing confidence in observation and thinking takes time, which is the value of having such an in-depth full time two week course.

In addition to the field trips, the participants also had the opportunity to visit local fossil collector Dave Allen, and to have a live video link with the ocean drilling ship Joides Resolution, presently working off the coast of Alaska.

Day by day a framework of understanding is built up. The final community / public expo event then requires the participants to become the educators, further re-inforcing the level of understanding of the geological concepts.

Through sharing the Geocamp experience with the participating students, the teachers are also able gain professional development in geoscience education with this inquiry learning approach. We hope that the ideas and  practices can be shared as the teachers return to their schools, to add longer term benefit.

This video shows the active engagement of the participants with members of the public during the expo. Their brief was to challenge the visitors to observe and think, in the same way that they had been challenged during their own Geocamp experience.

I would like to thank the teachers and students of Oakura School, Kaimata School, Eltham Primary, Makahu School and Sacred Heart Girls’  for their positive participation and response to the Geocamp.

0 thoughts on “Power of the Planet Geocamp in Taranaki”

  1. We all had an fantastic experience. Thank you for the opportunity to learn about the area we live in and the wonders that lie beneath us all! Louise Bain, Oakura School

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