PUPILS at Rimu Full Primary School, near Invercargill, learned about the Journey of Water and got to role play as environmental scientists last week.
They were visited by Environment Southland environmental education officer Pat Hoffmann, who used a model landscape to demonstrate how water moved through a landscape.
Throughout the demonstration, other elements such as oil were added to the “enviroscape model” to show how they might impact on water quality.
The demonstration was part of the ongoing Enviroschools programme.
The programme now involved 37 of Southland’s schools and about 4000 pupils, Mrs Hoffmann said.
About one-third of the nation’s schools were involved.
The Enviroschools programme is a national project aimed at increasing children’s awareness of natural environments and how best to care for these. It was launched in 2001 by the Toimata Foundation charitable trust, partly funded by the Ministry of the Environment.
The pupils involved in the Journey of Water project were also encouraged by Mrs Hoffmann to become more aware of their environment by collecting and analysing water samples from local waterways.
Role playing as environmental scientists was part of a separate teaching strategy being used at the school, she said.
The “Mantle of the Expert” strategy implemented by the school’s principal, Kate Webster, meant the children took on roles from the adult working world, Mrs Hoffmann said.
“They don’t just learn maths and science for the sake of it, they have a mission which motivates them and they’ll be learning without realising it,” she said.
Teacher Aaron Wakelin said his class of 28 pupils were “really enthusiastic” to start visiting the Waihopai and Otepuni rivers and perhaps the Mataura River to collect and analyse water samples.
They would also be learning about the landscape and waterways from a tikanga (traditional) Maori perspective, he said.
“The children experience something they can have a bit of control over, so it’s empowering for them – they’re helping protect our environment,” he said.