Saturday, June 30, 2012

Looking back...

My time at Niwa has come to an end.
An amazing experience I recommend.
I’ve learnt all sorts of science-y things.
Had an exciting time, let the memories ring…

Way back to February it was all “Arrgh Go”,
with a trip to Bluff for their deployment you know.
Mobilising Argo Floats with ‘Our Far South’ to the Southern Ocean,
to measure salinity, temperature, and current motion.

In March, I discovered a love for the Catlins,
the rugged habitat of little Yellow-Eyed Penguins.
In Dunedin, a week on values-based leadership.
Inspirational advice - it certainly did equip!

A week at sea on the Tangaroa, a memory I’ll always keep.
Taking water samples and sediment from 3000m deep.
Down below Chatham Rise and then sailing further north.
Hands-on science, while rolling up and down, back and forth.

Back on land I had some assignments to write.
And a trip to Baring Head was an awesome sight.
Collecting air samples of winds that from the Antarctic did blow,
for the Atmospheric Research Team here and in San Diego.

In May I was surrounded by thousands of specimens
of corals, starfish and some strange phylum.
Fixing samples in ethanol for the ‘Collection Room
was a fascinating time, as you might assume!

Meeting with fellow Teacher Fellows, another highlight,
on Workshop Days for Science curriculum insight.
With neat friendships built and fun times shared,
we’ll keep in touch for sure throughout the year.

Over at Mahanga Bay helping with an annual survey.
Measuring Paua and finding out just what they weigh.
Crossed varieties for aquaculture being explored.
Over 1200 measured in one day- a new record!

Many more good times, things that won’t fade.
Scientists are neat people. New friendships made.
Yes, it is a bit sad that it all has ended.
A 6-month Science Fellowship - totally splendid!!
So it’s back to school and into the classroom.
Helping kids passion for science to bloom!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset

Traveling into town each day has made me a bit of a 'morning report' listener. Had to stop the other morning though when going in particularly early to take a photo of the amazing sunrise looking over the Hutt Valley.

 And on another evening looking across the harbour at Mt Kaukau

Friday, June 22, 2012

Scientists do have fun!

Once a year the all the scientists come out for their annual Winter Poultice- a tradition that has been going for 20 years! Team relay including kayaking, cycling, walking, and running- along with amazing food and drink. A bit of a 'hobbit' theme this year

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The RV Kaharoa

Today I had a tour around the RV Kaharoa. She is less than half the size of the RV Tangaroa but has made some awesome voyages! The RV Kaharoa has deployed more Argo Floats than any other vessel and has an award for being a "World Champion Argo Float Deployer". Most Argo Floats get deployed off the side of regular container ships but the RV Kaharoa goes places away from regular shipping routes- she's one gutsy gal!
There are over 3500 Argo Floats in the ocean. The RV Kaharoa has deployed over 1100 of them!

RV Kaharoa deployment of Argo Floats. 2004-2011. (Tangaroa deployed those further south than 45S). The next Kaharoa deployment cruise is scheduled to begin 12 Oct.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A beautiful gift!

Each Teacher Fellow had been given a name and had to get them a small gift (a bit like a secret santa but we shared who gave who)
I got given this stunning paua from Brigitte. It has been specially carved with a koru design on the outside of the shell. (Not sure the photo here does it justice)

Brigitte also gave me a monkey that flies through the air like a catapult- only I discovered tonight that when it lands it gives off a hilarious "monkey" giggle!  To infinite and beyond!

Chemical Observations

Here's a great activity we did - thank goodness for zip-lock bags!

Chemical Observations
1.       Put one tablespoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of citric acid into a zip lock bag
2.       Shuffle these powders into one corner of the bag
3.       ¾ fill a small plastic container with water and add 2 drops of red food colouring
4.       Being very careful, hold the plastic container upright and place inside the zip lock bag- holding it upright at all times
5.       While you hold it upright- get someone else to zip the bag tightly shut
6.       Turn the plastic container upside down so that the coloured water mixes the powders.
Use all your senses to observe what happens. Make a list of your observations

The last of our Curriculum Days

My Science Fellowship is nearly at an end. Monday and Tuesday this week we all met again for our last Curriculum Workshop. Lots of ideas and very interesting discussions happen at these- along as a whole load of fun!
Ever thought how many teachers you can get on an upside-down table that is being held up by balloons??

Friday, June 15, 2012

A bit more about paua!

I certainly know a bit more about paua than I did a few weeks ago!
Diagram of paua (special thanks to Graeme Moss

Paua- male white gonad on left Photo: Graeme Moss

Male sperm

Female eggs shooting out the air holes

You can get rather attached to these things!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sediment on Chatham Rise

Johnny and Kevin have been busy sorting through the sediment they have collected off the Chatham Rise. This is an area that could possibly be mined for phosphate and they are taking a "snap shot" record of what is down there for the environmental impact reporting that needs to be done.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Visiting the Supercomputer

It doesn’t happen often but I was a bit lost for words today! Bernard Miville, NIWA's Manager of Operational Forecasting showed me around NIWA's supercomputer. (Super is an understatement!)  

This computer looks a little like something out of the old TV show ‘Get Smart’ but with a huge capability. It is as powerful as about 7000 laptops working simultaneously and has its own power generator.

Floor specially strengthened
to hold the weight.
Costing over $12 million, it is in a specially-built room that has a sensitive temperature-controlled system and a lifted, reinforced floor to hold its 18 tonne weight. All cabling and pipes are below. Water is piped through for air conditioning 

Note the thickness of these pipes...
... here working below.
Water pipes keeping things cool.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fort Ballance

Just above Mahanga Bay is the fascinating remains of the coastal artillery battery - Fort Ballance. This was constructed in the late 1880’s because of fears of a Russian invasion (!!)  It was the first fort built in Wellington and named after the Defense Minister of the day- John Ballance. This was Wellington's primary military fort until 1911 when Fort Dorset opened.
Although heavily covered with graffiti now, it is still an amazing structure of rooms    

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Surveying the Seabed

NIWA's Mahanga Bay Aquaculture Centre

There are 3 rafts out in Mahanga Bay. Twice a year the guys out at the Aquaculture Facility need to survey the seabed to see what's there. Phil and Johnny have a line that they survey from the raft to the shore.  They lay a 50 cm quadrant on the sea floor, count up all they see, then turn the quadrant over- ending up with a metre area surveyed. They use a pencil and a special clipboard to record the data.

These rafts used to have cages below them with fish
A cold pair! Phil and Johnny surveying.
Hanging on the raft! Graeme let me have a go
driving the boat in the bay.