Geography Students in the Field

March 07, 2016 at 2:22 PM

With thanks to Head of Geography, Mrs Gillian McCaskey

“Geography is all about the living, breathing essence of the world we live in. It explores the past, illuminates the present and prepares us for the future. What could be more important than that?”

The wise words of Michael Palin became a reality for our NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3 geographers during a busy and action packed month! At times the rain poured but in the main the sun shined and we had great fun exploring a range of different local environments. First up was a visit to the Waitakere Ranges. The tough yet delicate ecosystem of the mangroves in Armour Bay was compared with the verdant sub-tropical forests of the Arataki Visitor Centre and its surrounds. Our Year 12 students braved the mud and the rain to take soil samples, establish vegetation transects and collect data on aspect, weather and slope. Their purpose was to seek to explain the factors and processes responsible for the differences they observed.

Meanwhile, the Year 11 classes enjoyed a day on the dairy farm of Old Collegian, Murray Shaw. Mr Shaw has long been an advocate of the Saint Kentigern geography department and his willingness to share his farm and his experiences with us was very much appreciated. The big question of the day surrounded the mutual viability of economic and environmental sustainability. The students were fascinated to experience farm life and hear of the changing pressures which face this important economic sector in New Zealand.

The Year 13 trip saw a return to the fundamentals of physical geography and geology. The beautiful west coast beaches of Muriwai provided a stunning backdrop to each of our experiments. We hiked up to the headland to see the gannet colony and Mototara Island rock stack, while down on the beach we measured wave energy, littoral drift and the beach profile.

Every trip, whilst being an experience in its own right, also forms the basis of a substantial NCEA assessment. An interesting feature of the geography course is that students are required to collect their own data to complete a research project. Not only does this provide the opportunity for a great day out but it also fosters a sense of curiosity and independent thinking that we value so highly in all of our College students.


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