Hutt drone rangers get bird’s eye view
Pupils New Zealand-wide have gone high-tech as ‘‘drone rangers’’ and one youngster from Waterloo School is riding particularly high.
Land Information New Zealand created a virtual field trip to the South Island’s Mackenzie Country. Using web technologies and audio conferences with experts, pupils could see how Land Information staff use GPS (global positioning systems), GIS (geographic information systems) and other technologies for their mapping, conservation and biosecurity work.
They saw Land Information’s new drone, used in the Mackenzie to monitor and map wilding conifer infestations, in action.
Nearly 100 classrooms logged into the virtual field trip and all were invited to come up with a name for the drone.
Of more than 200 ideas sent in, Waterloo School’s Anna Wilson’s was judged the best. Anna, 10, reasoned the drone was like a bird that could hover and ‘‘go to places we can’t easily get to for a bird’s eye view’’ and said the drone should be called Manu (Maori for bird, or kite).
Minister of Land Information Louise Upston came to give prizes to Waterloo School’s year 6 pupils last week.
Before presenting Anna with a Galaxy tablet, Upston said she liked that Anna had seen Manu as ‘‘more than a collection of wires and electronics’’ but as a living thing, with an important job to do.
Two of Anna’s friends who helped her refine her entry, Lauren Grigsby and Holly Devos, got Whitcoulls vouchers and the class was given a GoPro camera.
Manu was busy with a job in Christchurch last week but a Land Information officer promised to bring her back (the Waterloo pupils insisted Manu was a ‘‘she’’) if the classroom used their GoPro to capture interesting footage and send it to the department.
New Zealand Geospatial Office acting manager Rob Deakin said virtual field trips let ‘‘students get to visit remote locations that would normally be too expensive or impractical to travel to’’.
‘‘It’s the next generation’s version of the traditional field trip.’’
Land Information’s drone Manu was busy out of Wellington last week but Hutt professional photographer Brady Dyer, whose drone is kept busy with shooting jobs where getting above a site is necessary, brought in his drone so the Waterloo School year 6 pupils could see one. From left are pupils Lauren Grigsby, Holly Devos and Anna Wilson, with National list MP Chris Bishop, Brady Dyer and Land Information Minister Louise Upston.