Ocean Explorer site a classroom hit
Swimming with swarms of galapagos sharks, terrible dad jokes about turtles, and which super camouflage skill is best, these are all elements making a new, interactive website a hit with students.
Underwater cameraman Steve Hathaway from Snells Beach hopes the mix of stunning underwater visuals, stories on marine critters told by his daughter Riley, humour and games will draw kids into the underwater world. While they’re there, it’s hoped they’ll pick up some marine science along the way, encouraging them to be more curious about the world.
‘‘Kids want to have fun learning and don’t want to feel like they’re at school,’’ Hathaway said.
He was thrilled when Greenstone TV approached him to collaborate on the interactive website project aimed at primary school students, with a $175,000 grant from New Zealand On Air.
The father and daughter duo have already made a name for themselves through The Young Oceans Explorers TV series.
The environmental message of caring for the ocean was part of the attraction for Woodlands Park School principal Liz Manley when she agreed to let students and staff be the sounding board for the project.
Focusing not just on science but also on reading and reluctant writers, students of all ages and teachers enjoyed being a part of it, she said.
Having Riley as a role model was important, as was the New Zealand focus.
‘‘The web is flooded with resources, it’s finding something that is authentic, that you trust and that has content that is relevant,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re looking for ways IT adds value rather than just being a replacement and this is so interactive with children.’’
Having access to resources that are easy to use by teachers and fun for students is important.
A report in 2011 by the prime minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, found that as many teachers didn’t come from a science background this saw them lacking confidence in teaching that subject at primary school level.
The 2014/15 TIMSS report showed New Zealand Year 5 students’ average science achievement in 2014/15 was lower than all the other predominantly Englishspeaking countries who participated at the middle primary level.
Riley and Steve Hathaway feature in a new website aimed at teachers and students