An almost $2000 Bayer Primary School Science Fund for St Teresa's School in Featherston will outfit the students with an array of learning possibilities while also helping them understand and enhance their wider environment, says principal Jennifer Muth.
The school was one of the latest recipients of the fund after Year 7 and 8 students from the Takitimu class, led by teacher Liz Lark, had earlier this year completed lessons under the banner Wairarapa Moana Kaitiaki (Lake Wairarapa guardians).
The programme was funded by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and involved two field trips for students to sites at Lake Wairarapa and Waiorongomai Stream, she said.
Tom Frankish, spokesman for the Bayer Primary School Science Fund, said $1887 had been awarded to the school to buy stream health monitoring kits and fishing equipment "so the students can learn to test water quality, collect and identify macro invertebrates and analyse the quality of streambed and surroundings -- especially those impacted by farming and deforestation in the area".
He said the fund is nationally worth $120,000 over three years, and was designed "to give primary schools the opportunity to apply for funding to support environmental science education and resource Nature of Science activities".
Mrs Muth said the Bayer grant will enable the school to widen lessons the Takitimu class had spearheaded in aquatic environmental studies under Mrs Lark, who was instrumental in winning the funding from Bayer.
"Last year we were looking at combining with a local youth group and Featherston School to work on the Donald Creek and we thought then that if we had our own water testing kit, then we could continue this year after year," she said.
The funding will also buy plant-growing medium and plants for the Donald Creek that runs near the school, she said, and will help bring together several community partnerships and complementary science lessons for the school.
"Using our local environment as part of our curriculum makes learning authentic and purposeful for our students. The life cycle of the long-finned eel is particularly important in South Wairarapa, as we have learnt through our involvement in the Ngati Kahungunu Super Whanau Advisory Group Hui."
She said Year 7 and 8 students had written picture books about the life cycle of the eel after the field trips. The senior students had also applied their science knowledge to a mathematics unit on statistics.
"We focused on Waiorongomai Stream, as students from that area attend our school, as well as Lake Wairarapa. We were excited at how engrossed students were in their learning," she said.
Mrs Muth said community associations for the school will be boosted off the back of the environmental studies earlier this year.
"There are all sorts of great spin-offs that have come from the one piece of work. Eventually it could be something we build in, so students are continually working on it year after year."