Waitaki Whitestone Geopark teamed up with Duntroon School to deliver our first formal education programme, School of Rocks, throughout the 2019 school year. The goal of School of Rocks is to use local geology as a medium through which to get primary school students engaged in science and technology. Students will explore earth science and spatial technology through a series of hands-on exercises and experiences driven by the scientific process. The principle learning outcome for students is that they gain the skills they need to become responsible kaitiaki (stewards) of the geologic heritage within the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. The School of Rocks programme has been made possible by the Curious Minds contestable fund, which supports hands-on STEM experiences for our future scientists, mathematicians,
researchers, technicians, and engineers.
The kids in the School of Rocks programme had a lot of fun in Terms 1 and 2. The older classes were learning about and looking for micrometeorites near the Vanished World Centre, Duntroon. Micrometeorites formed the same time as our solar system, are only a third of a millimetre in diameter and usually have a spherical shape. Our explorers, equipped with a super strong neodymium magnet, gathered samples around the centre and examined these under the microscope. What they found was rather intriguing! It turns out that human activity such as welding can generate spherical shapes that look very similar to micrometeorites, but lack the intricate textures that are carved into micrometeorites as they hurtle through Earth’s atmosphere. The students found many of the man-made ‘micrometeorites’ in Nicol’s Blacksmith, but had no luck with real ones from space.
The younger classes compared their size with the size of an ancient whale, the fossilised skull of which was found in the Geopark. Each student traced an outline of their feet onto paper and counted how many ‘feet’ fit into the whale so that kids could compare their size.
The School of Rocks sessions are always a lot of fun, for students and teachers!