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Ecology Programme for Schools Wins 3-Year Funding

Media Release
10 April 2008

Ecology Programme for Schools Wins 3-Year Funding

A stream water quality and ecology programme for schools has received a welcome boost through a three-year funding allocation from the Canterbury Community Trust.

Lincoln University’s Waterwatch-Kaitiaki Wai programme has been extremely popular with Canterbury’s senior primary and secondary schools. Currently there are 14 schools taking part, including five first-time schools, to learn about water quality, freshwater biology and in-stream values.

Kelvin Nicolle, Senior Tutor in Natural Resources Engineering and Manager of Waterwatch-Kaitiaki Wai, says the additional funding will enable the programme to visit more schools, and to establish a part-time co-ordinator in the North Canterbury area. Previously the programme has had to reapply to the Trust for funding every 12 months.

“The additional support we’re receiving from the Canterbury Community Trust is what we’ve been dreaming of for years. It means the programme has real security, and can focus on extending its reach to other Canterbury, North Canterbury and Marlborough communities and schools.

“The Trust is recognising the importance of water in our society and the value of investing in educational programmes. Waterwatch-Kaitiaki Wai will enable these groups to understand the issues surrounding the supply of water and use of our waterways.”
Waterwatch-Kaitiaki Wai is an interactive, hands on programme in which students are able to collect, analyse and interpret environmental data utilising modern technologies. The programme covers a range of physical, chemical and biological indicators of water quality, and is tailored to fit with current and new school curriculum requirements. It is suitable for science, maths, geography, biology and technology courses, and community groups are able to tailor the programme to their requirements.

The programme provides trained educators, all specialist equipment, workbooks,
pencils, and waders so the students can get in the water and taste ecology at a practical level. It also offers support for Science Fair projects and individual student projects for assessment. The programme is active in South Canterbury and has additional financial support from Environment Canterbury and The New Zealand Royal Society.

The Director of Lincoln University’s Environment, Society and Design Division, Dr Stefanie Rixecker, says Waterwatch-Kaitiaki Wai is a model of an effective extension of University expertise into these schools and the wider community.


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