Teacher is 'mad' about science

Lifting the profile

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2014
Glynn Hills
ROBERT CHARLES/ Fairfax NZ

MOTH WHISPERER: Central School teacher Glynn Hills has just returned from a six-month Royal Society of New Zealand science fellowship, and can now teach his students more about science – like how to make a homemade lava lamp.

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Glynn Hills says he isn't a mad scientist, but he is mad about science.

The New Plymouth Central School teacher has just returned from a six-month science fellowship with the Department of Conservation and will put his new skills to work in the classroom.

"It was quite a privilege to be selected," Hills said. "Part of my job now is to lift the profile of science in the school and help the kids to learn that not every scientist wears a white lab coat."

As a part of the Royal Society of New Zealand fellowship the 48-year-old spent six months helping DOC with projects.

Among the experiences was fresh water fish monitoring in Mokau, where he helped to count and record the number of whitebait.

"There's nothing like being out at night with a spotlight, freezing cold in the middle of a river," he said.

He also trekked 1000m up Mt Taranaki to find, record and protect New Zealand's only endemic, flowering, parasitic plant; the dactylanthus taylorii.

While on placement with DOC Hills earned the name of the "moth-whisperer" for his ability to hunt down the notoreas "Taranaki" moth. These elusive creatures are only the size of a thumbnail, but his sharp eye successfully identified a number of the moths and earned him his special title.

"It's pretty hard to find them, they only survive on one plant and in certain weather conditions. They are almost amber and black in colour too."

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