Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tapuae meets technology

By Jess Toomey
A primary school teacher is using modern satellite technology to pinpoint marine life on a section of Taranaki’s rocky shores.
West End School teacher Warren Smart is using Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate and record marine life at the Tapuae Marine Reserve near New Plymouth.
Warren, who has been teaching for 26 years, is doing this as part of a Teachers Fellowship in Primary Science for the last six months of this year.
He applied to the Royal Society of New Zealand for the fellowship early this year because he wanted to improve his science teaching.
“It’s good to be doing something different and learning new skills,” he says.
Warren is working alongside marine biologist Erin Zydervelt from the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) and scientist Elise Smith from the Ngamotu Marine Reserve Society.
The 48-year-old is doing a quadrat study in the reserve and is using GIS and GPS to help track wildlife and plants and will be putting data on the society’s online map.
“I’m hoping to add information about what can be found at the reserve so when other people go down there, these will act as a guide for them,” he says of the technology.
He has taken photos of an orange sponge that grows on the side of rock pools and can name different types of limpets and shellfish.
Warren is also using an underwater camera to capture different types of species living in rock pools and taking video and photos of the marine reserve.
On top of this, he is updating wiki posts, which is set up for other interested teachers and he has his own blog: http://tapuaecalling.blogspot.com/.
This keeps a regular update of what he’s doing. His latest post shows him viewing soft sediment samples under a microscope at the TRC.
Jess Toomey is a WITT journalism student doing STAR

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