Tuesday, October 31, 2006

rodent tracker

please design a rodent tracking device for use in native bush or other areas.
draw it using your technical drawing skills - i.e. a ruler and pencil.
show detail and explain how it would work.

it must be:
weather proof
easy to make
enticing to rodents
able to give an idea of whether or not rodents are about - how many is not as important.
you must be able to carry many of them into the area where you are trying to eradicate rats and mice.

it needs to be designed on A4 paper - tidy, accurate presentation, clear drawings and explanations are important.

Sunday, October 29, 2006



this kakapo recovery programme website has info and activities for kids....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

drat! cool! I wonder....hmmm....

darn it ...

"Native birds don't use nest boxes. Introduced birds may use boxes."- quoted from: http://bestgardening.com/bgc/hub/ecobirds02.htm

...but it also talks about which plant species to grow at home to allow fantails and other birds safe plants to nest in - obviously they need to provide cover from the dreaded neighbourhood cats.
actually, the work i did thinning the trees on my property over the holidays seems to have actually encouraged more birds in. they are better able to fly between previously densely crowded spaces and are sheltering and feeding in the grapefruit tree directly outszide our lounge window. it's great - i see waxeyes, fantails, blackbirds, thrushes, and some mysterious new visitor - some kind of finch. that's the new visitor. i cut open grapefruit for the waxeyes. of course, i feed them in safe places, up trees, where cats can't get them while they're distracted.
the waxeyes also peck the plants outside my office window for insects. i can see them at close range without them seeing me. it's great - by encouraging them in they are working for me, removing insect pests like aphids, scale insects, etc.
other benefits of thinning my trees out is that the ones left are growing better. and once in amongst them, i discovered all sorts of things about the trees - they are all natives - pittosporums, rewarewa, kauri, kahikatea, lancewood, and various trees ferns. what surprised me was founding flowers in the plain looking pittos, and red bottle brushes in the rewarewa. there are also amazing red berries with a shiny, black, protruding seed in the tikoki. such things i'd never noticed before.
now i'm trying to encourage ferns in the undergrowth beneath the tree ferns and other tree canopy.
i went for a bike ride today and got very excited when i visited my favourite part of thheye hamilton gardens - the sustainable backyard. its so cool. i snuck into the wormery and got a couple of composting worms for the two chooks. they got very excited and now i want some at home. oh, and a cow trough pond with a solar powered pump... and a trained aplle tree to run along my fence. ... and some wild flowers... and a farm!
hey - maybe we could make a sustainable backyard at school in the biotech gardens...


Last year the school chose to chop down half of our beautiful trees, including a famous old elm tree -the oldest one of its type in Hamilton... apparently. Now the school is boldly planning to wastify the existing native garden by our classroom, plus the very special designer water feature which is based on the ground-breaking scienitific ideas of Nikolai Tesla - a great thinker and inventor. They plan to do this to build the new canteen in its place. Personally i think this is pure evil and must be stopped. It is unnecessary and could be placed eslewhere. In fact, people from Mr Ccck's class have already suggested another more sensible plan. Can you come up with anything interesting? It must be practical for the school to consider it.
Would you actually like a nice place to sit and eat? Consider shelter from wind, sun, rain, beauty of surroundings, environmental issues like replanting of natives, bird attraction, litter issues, etc....


right squiddlers - please tell me what you do at biotech.
tell me what you like/dislike about it.
post ideas for what you would like to do in biotech.
also, please answer this question: do you think biotech could be used as a way to teach environmental stuff, animal behaviour, biology, etc?

thank you for your assistance.


Monday, October 23, 2006

native birds in your garden?

do you know what you might see in your garden? or how to enhance your garden to make it enticing to native birds? are all our actions beneficial to native birds? what if we invite them in only to be gobbled by voracious pet cats? or could they spread disease to one another whilst dining at bird feeders?
read on....

things to do in our urban gardens....

this is about birds in Britain, but it may apply to us too...

somewhere in this site is a weta house model i think...

Biodiversity - Mother Nature's intended way


Biodiversity is easily understood as the variety of life, an abstract concept measuring the richness of life by its variety. Variety is nature's way to create stability with maximum adaptability. As humans encroach, while altering their surroundings, wildlife disappears at a frightening rate. What is biodiversity? What is happening? Why? Do we care? What can be done about it?


Study and Save the natural world? Why bother?

To Study is to Learn... To Learn is to Understand... To Understand is to Appreciate... To Appreciate is to Value... To Value is to Save


This link is to a site that may be quite useful to us in our study...than again, maybe it's biased... Who created it? What is their purpose? Are they reliable? At a glance it seems okay. I leave you to investigate further. It may help answer some of your questions.

Enjoy the rainy day off. I'm enjoying making feeding stations for waxeyes and some kind of finch that has appeared in my garden lately.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

a great philosopher once said....

“be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

"if you never did you should. these things are fun and fun is good”

“you can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”

“just tell yourself, duckie, you're really quite lucky!”

~ dr. seuss


things to design and build

over the next week or two i want us to have the pleasure of designing and constructing things.
it would also be a delight to be able to immerse ourselves in active learning of a subject - namely the one we're doing. you people could really achieve some amazing things.
so far we've listed tailor made bird houses for native species. would they use them? what would they be drawn to? what other things can we do to help our feathered friends?
who wants to help something other than a bird? i like wetas. we can make a weta hotel. i saw some at maungatuatari.
what about the rat traps? need more ideas. tunnels seem to attract them.
bird feeders? what might attract different types of birds? do tui and waxeyes respond to the same kind of feeders? how about kaka [and i don't mean poo]
any other ideas?
mr webster says we can use his room when he isn't. we need our own materials.


about this GATE class thing - since you brought it up [aMi] - it's good to actually see evidence of your GATEyness [rM9] from time to time. mAGster's paintings were impressive. i loved the guernica one. here's a link to the painting that inspired her.

http://www.artfaq.it/desktop/guernica.jpg [there are better links available]

what did you think? it's also really great to hear people sharing resources, knowledge and ideas on the theme.
full credit - and gO WAIKATOOO@@@!!!!

[tumultuous sound of cowbells]

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Persuasive language

Since you will be learning about the features of persuasive language, you will have to prove your understanding by writing an argument in support of or against controversial statements. Those who wish to will be put in debating teams, based on merit.
Please feel free to add any topic ideas, but post them as clear statements - you don't have to believe them. They just need to be juicy, fire people up, and cause controversy.

Here are some examples of one we will debate.

"Because of the potential danger to native species, in NZ it will be illegal to own a pet cat, dog, rat, mouse, or mustelid."

HAve fun forming strong, logical arguments to support your position, whether you agree ro disagree. Especially if you want to be a defence lawyer, politician or professional liar.

Time for some light relief...

Don't try this at home:


How do I know if a website is right for my topic?

Things to consider when evaluating a website:

Content - Is the subject content relevant and appropriate to my learning needs? Can I answer some or all of my key questions using the site.

Coverage - What is the scope of this resource? Does it cover all aspects of the topic, with valid and appropriate examples?

Accuracy - Are the information and the presentation accurate, or could they be misleading?

Authority - Is it clear who is responsible for the resource, and all that is in it? Is this author an expert on this subject? Are links to other Web sites acknowledged?

Objectivity - Is the information well balanced or can I detect some prejudice or bias? Can i detect any PERSUASIVE LANGUAGE?

Up to Date? - Is the date of publication or update available and acceptable?

Presentation - Is the resource appealing? Is it clearly and logically presented? (And for online use, there are many more considerations, eg. Is the information accessible and the site easy to navigate? Is it full of advertising or other distractions?)

Usability - Will this be useful for my study? How can I use it?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

fun game

have some fun...
on my second go i lasted for 194 seconds.
post your scores
good luck!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

links to sites that may be of use for your study....

Please evaluate som eor all of these sites and post comments as to which ones are useful for aspects of our study.
At present you may not be entirely sure what the direction of the study is taking. Think along the lines of our environment, native species versus introduced pests and predators, habitat destruction, species extinctions, the web of life and how this is all related to us. Also, if there is a problem, can we do anything, and if so, what?
Who knows - maybe we should just kill everything,poison the Earth and live in megacity1 with wall to wall playstations everywhere.
You will have to have opinions and be able to justify them.




- this last one is an incomplete list of endangered speicies from NZ. You can add to it, if you are certain of your facts and spelling.

Feel free to post links to other sites of use.

field trips

I have one field trip to an 'island' in mind. It could also be fun to walk up to the uni, see their fernery, talk to experts, have a picnic, monitor bird types, check out what lives in their lakes, etc.
If we design good rodent monitoring stations, we could go to local spots worth regenerating and see if the rodents [or any other nasties] are there too.
I have heard that we have potential contacts for a behind the scenes look at the Auckland Zoo. How could we tie that into our study on the environment, endangered animals, introduced pests, etc.?
All sensible ideas welcome ...

Rat challenge

Design a portable, lightweight, weather-proof, durable, effective implement for tracking the presence of rodents for an outdoor setting. We will test it at school, then try to use it in then bush. Perhaps we could set some up in patches of native bush around Hamilton...? [Is there a suitable one nearby?]
Why do we need something like this? Well, since we know rats and mice are pests in the NZ bush ecosystem, we need to be able to reliably work out whether or not they are present if we are to reintroduce endangered native species.
What other creatures might we want to check for? Any ideas for tracking stations for those animals? Think about their ecological niches and how you would best test for their presence.
i.e. Would you test for things that eat native fish up trees?

the web of life challenge

Here is a challenge for you.
Design an active, outdoor game that demonstrates the interdependence of different species in food webs. It could be something like a 'tiggy' game where people play different roles - perhaps those of producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer and the gruesome decomposers....
We will play the best game. Try to keep it simple, active and fun, whilst reinforcing the concepts we have been learning.
Good Luck

p.s. post your ideas here for feedback - you could refine your ideas collaboratively online. Isn't that what you do in games like Runescape?

interactive pests n predators

Remember in library time when we discussed which predator was most destructive in the NZ bush setting? Well, this little interactive game might help you decide....


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Please Be Ready for ACTION

Day one will be go go go.
you need:

1. books to work in
2. colouring pencils or jovis or something like that for detailed colouring.
3. resources - you will have to get out to libraries or other sources of resources and find the resources we need
4. positive can do/will do attitudes
5. a folder to keep loose papers in.
6. good time management skills
7. the desire to learn, get involved in something bigger than yourself, and make a positive difference


the web of life

Is NZ really 'green'? Is the planet doomed? Can we make a difference?
do we understand the interconnectivity of life and the impact we do or can make on our environment?
Are cats cute pets or vicious killers and a blight on our environment?
Are mice and rats cute pets or destructive pests?
Is a stoat a charming pet or a potential menace?
If you have a pet rat, mouse, stoat, weasel, possum, or ferret, bring it to school if you think it will not be stressed.
if you have little native plants you could bring, bring them.
Any resources - books, pamphlets, posters, websites, videos, dvds, etc, relating to NZ environment, conservation, plant or animal or bird indentification, etc, bring them. Animal traps could be useful.

If you haven't finished your assignments, you can do them at lunchtime and after school this week.

Remember - be positive 8>)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

how to succeed in term four

Guidelines for successful G.A.T.E. students:

· Be creative in your approach.
· Look for quality in all your work.
· Be prepared to share your knowledge or understandings.
· Ask questions when you need to.
· Make suggestions.
· Manage your time well and develop positive work habits – self reliance is important.
· Share your answers – even if you’re not sure.
· Look at each experience as a learning opportunity.
· Strive for understanding and excellence.
· Evaluate your work and your progress.
· Provide honest, thoughtful, constructive feedback.
· Enjoy learning for learning’s sake.
· Assume there is an important reason why your teacher is providing you with certain learning experiences.
· Respect your teachers as they have your best interests at heart, work hard to provide you with valuable learning opportunities and are more experienced than you.
· Always look for the positives – this will help you to enjoy almost any experience more.
· Celebrate your successes

and Encourage others 8>)

Time to learn

Okay squiddlers - you've had your chance to choose your own topics and do quality work and I can't say it's been super successful. Now it's my turn.
Term Four is going to be teacher dominated, brutal and oppressive - well, okay, so maybe I will still be trying my best to make it interesting, relevant and purposeful and tailored to your needs - but please don't be disappointed if it seems to be on a topic you aren't too thrilled about - my idea is to introduce you to skills and information that will help you to be better informed about your world and to arm you with skills and attitudes that will help you to make positive choices. In fact, I am hoping that you will try to save the world - seriously. I think you can do it to.

You will have input into the design of your topic, make choices about field trips, and be able to design things, do experiments, do art, poetry, creative writing, work with animals, get outside the classroom, talk to experts, camp somewhere maybe, and basically actually learn something useful. We will goal set and work toward achieving those goals. I will be guiding the goal setting as it has been fairly meaningless in previous terms.
Secondary - but majorly time consuming - goals will be related to athletics and our team singing. We will also be trying to compete for excellence awards - anyone can achieve them!
DO your best - be focused on having a positive successful term where you will work hard but be satisfied with your results.
Enjoy your final days of rest and make sure the projects that are due get done to a high standard.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


who is interested in going to maungatautari ecological reserve, with the pest proof fences, to see takahe, camp on a farm, and walk in the bush at night to look for kiwi?
it is a great place! we went there for our anniversary.


the takahe is a bird sooo rare that it was once thought extinct - we could see it and help plant up its enclosure to make it better....

Monday, October 02, 2006

for the Magster [and other budding artistes]

picasso fun made easy


p.s. make sure you are doing work on your personal projects....