Squawk for Conservation Week

Issue: Volume 98, Number 12

Posted: 22 July 2019
Reference #: 1H9w6W

Learning the Māori names of birds and finding out about different species was a highlight of Conservation Week for students at St Francis de Sales School in Island Bay, Wellington, last year.

Tamure, a year 2–3 class, took part in a free programme which provides teachers with digital resources for a range of classroom conservation activities. The resources link to the curriculum, with activities ranging from bird watching to making videos of the young environmental rangers in action. 

Last year's prize winners visited Zealandia in Wellington. The 225-hectare ecosanctuary has reintroduced native wildlife, including kaka, to the area. 

This year’s programme will include weekly activities about predator-free NZ, birds of prey, kauri dieback, plastic pollution and climate change. 

Tamure teacher Alex Win-Ricketts says that being younger, the children in her class “…liked all the hands-on activities like making masks, but they also did lots of research into environmental issues, which they could do through the videos and interactive links.”

They also enjoyed being involved in the nationwide competition, run each year. “It was really cool having a new challenge every day and the prizes were a great incentive. My children loved making videos about what they learnt and posting them on Seesaw for their families to see,” Alex says.

Her students won the competition by showing great commitment to environmental causes and raising the most money to buy predator traps. “As the winning class, the trip to Zealandia helped them to see the birds and traps in real life,” Alex says.

Developed by Squawk Squad for years 1-8, the seven-week interactive programme aims to help tamariki become kaitiaki of our natural environment. It begins on 5 August, finishing in Conservation Week (14-22 September).

Last year close to 1700 classes signed up, says Owain John, Chief Squawker. “We get sponsorship from different organisations which are interested in conservation. Students can also make videos of their activities for the campaign. The Squawk team assess the videos and award prizes at the end of each week.”

Protecting native birds

Each Monday during the seven-week programme, classes get a video telling them about the topic of the week and featuring video clips from the winning entries. This year, the first 500 schools who signed up received virtual reality headsets so they could follow Squawk’s Journey - a story about a baby bush robin and the perils facing Aotearoa’s native birds.

The class judged to be the most enthusiastic wins a grand prize of a class trip to a bird sanctuary with members of Squawk Squad.

Schools can sign up to the environmental education programme(external link) via the website.

More about Squawk Squad

Squawk Squad is a social enterprise that aims to connect and engage Aotearoa New Zealand in the protection and growth of our native bird life. It connects people with sanctuaries via a web-app that enables them to collectively fund sensor-connected predator traps.

Funders can see where their trap is deployed in the sanctuary and are notified in real-time when their trap activates. Squawk Squad also aims to grow a community of eco-guardians by popularising environmental education.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:31 am, 22 July 2019

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