Ocean Ex­plorer site a class­room hit

Rodney Times - - OUT & ABOUT - DEL­WYN DICKEY

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.

RICHARD ROBIN­SON/ SUPPLIED

Ri­ley and Steve Hath­away fea­ture in a new web­site aimed at teach­ers and stu­dents

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