Kids make hi-tech trip to the ice

01:43, Jan 31 2009
Matapu School students learn a lot more about creatures that lurk under the ice and scientist go diving to see them in Antarctica through a video conference.

Students at Matapu School in South Taranaki took a field trip to Antarctica yesterday - a virtual one, that is.

Year two and three students have been studying the icy continent through Linking Education and Antarctic Research in New Zealand (Learnz).

Yesterday they spoke with Learnz teacher Charmaine in Antarctica by video conference.

They also caught up with the ambassador, Killer the stuffed orca, they'd sent down with Charmaine.

"It came out of their toy box," said room five teacher, Jackie Ousey.

"It's personalised it for them. They all hugged and talked to him before he went down."


Killer has been keeping students up-to-date with the goings on in Antarctica via a web diary and he helped show them around Scott Base.

The students got the chance to ask scientists and marine biologists about research they were doing. Probing questions about why you would dive under the ice, how you keep warm when down there and what Antarctica looks like were asked.

Pictures and stories of penguins, huge seals and sea spiders produced plenty of oohs, woahs and eews from excitable students.

It was a valuable way to learn, Miss Ousey said.

Principal Rick Whalley said digital classrooms were the way of the future.

"It wasn't like that when I was at school. We just read about it in a book or the teacher told you," he said.

"Now they get to go there."

Michael Bank, 7, and Courtney Sanderson, 8, thought it was all pretty cool.

They've learnt a lot about Antarctica - it's like they've been there.

"It's a cold place," Michael said.

"And it's daylight for 24 hours," Courtney added.

She's not keen to go there in real life, though.

"It's too cold."


Taranaki Daily News