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Digging for Science

May 18, 2016 at 8:23 AM

The realms of scientific investigation can reach into the deepest recesses of the universe, millions of kilometres away, or delve into crevices much closer to home. To celebrate Science Week, a number Year 5 and 6 students and teachers from the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools and other local primaries probed the hidden world right under their feet! Dig a Hole Day offered a chance for the students to get down and dirty with the outermost layer of the Earth’s crust on Roselle Lawn.

First, Dr Iris Vogeler demonstrated how to test soil samples for their properties. All soils contain mineral particles, organic matter, water and air and it is the combination of these that determine the soil’s texture, structure, porosity, chemistry and colour. Dr Vogeler is a soil scientist for AgResearch and led the students in conducting experiments to test the drainage capacity of different types of soils.

Dr Robyn Simcock is an ecologist and soil scientist with Landcare Research. She specialises in rehabiliting land impacted by major civil works, such as mines and dams and has a particular interest in environmental issues and sustainability. She explained the diversity of soils found around Auckland and how our natural history determines its qualities.

Dr Bruce Hayward then discussed Auckland’s volcanoes and New Zealand fossils. A palaeontologist, geologist and marine ecologist, Dr Hayward has written more than 20 books on everything from archaeology to lichens. The history of Auckland’s volcanic cones was detailed and real-life examples of fossils were passed around for the audience to examine.

The afternoon of fossicking underfoot opened the students’ eyes to the interesting field of exploration lurking just below the Earth’s surface. The event also provided an opportunity for the teachers to rub shoulders with other science experts to enhance their classroom teaching.

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