Some budding young scientists have emerged from a group of Tararua school students who have benefited from spending two weeks working with experts in the field of science.

Thirty students from Huia Range, Weber, Kumeroa and Pahiatua schools, Tararua College and home schooled students made up the group. They took part in The Discover Hidden Worlds GeoCamp 2019, a field-based learning experience for students and teachers that ran from May 6 to 17. It was organised for Tararua by Wairarapa REAP and run by GNS Science.

Tararua REAP early childhood and schools co-ordinator Jo Brown, who is also a part-time teacher at Huia Range, took part in the programme.

The students learned from scientists about the geological forces that have shaped New Zealand, with a focus on Wairarapa and Tararua.


Field trips included sketching landscape features at Baker Rd and straddling the Mohaka Fault which runs parallel to the ranges and marking out the 6-9m lateral movement in an average earthquake.

A visit to the quarry at the entrance to the Manawatū Gorge showed the geology of the Ruahine Range and the students collected Manawatū River water samples and studied river dynamics.

The students visited Ferry Reserve where they learned the story of the land.
At the Manawatū Estuary students drilled "mud cores" and from the layers of sediment they were given a glimpse into the past.

They also learned about sea-level rise that will affect the Foxton Beach coastline.

The students used tape measures and levels to see how far the predicted 30cm sea-level rise in the next 100 years would encroach up the coastline. GNS scientists say the global driver for rising sea-level is a result of climate change, however, tectonics also plays a role. In classroom studies they analysed samples, studied volcanic deposits and atmospheric change, with more field trips.

Brown said through science experiments the students learned to observe, interpret, test hypotheses and develop all those scientific skills.

At the end of the GeoCamp the students were put into groups and had to come up with a particular aspect of what they had learned and give a presentation on it.

On Thursday the students reunited to give their presentations at Huia Range School.

Home-schooled Sarah Milham said science was her favourite subject and she was keen to pursue it as a career, possibly in the field of biology. She worked with Huia Range student Chimari Hada on the carbon cycle and conducted tests to measure the level of CO2 people exhaled.

Kumeroa students Georgia Fountaine and Leiana Rivers worked with Keira Fergus from Pahiatua School on a presentation about the Mohaka faultline.

"It moves around every 2000 years so we felt pretty safe standing on it," Georgia said.

Brown said the opportunity arose for the students because GNS likes to engage with REAPs because of their partnerships with schools and provides sponsorship to get science into schools.

"Teachers have to take part along with the kids because we have to learn how to teach science."

One benefit was that the children got to work in mixed groups.

"One of the key concepts is community collaboration and getting out there and getting involved."

Brown said by conducting experiments the children learned to develop their scientific skills and they also learned the terminology and vocabulary of science.