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LAB wows country school

Kiwis of all ages should be aware of natural hazards and a visit to “The LAB” is a great way to raise that awareness, says Te Pohue School teacher Tim Orbell.

On Tuesday, 18 October, Mr Orbell and his multi-level senior class (Year 6 to 8) from the rural Hawke’s Bay school had the distinction of becoming the first school group to use the “Life at the Boundary” education programme for the recently opened LAB at the National Aquarium of New Zealand on Marine Parade, Napier. The LAB and education programme are part of a three pronged approach to help communities on the East Coast better understand the natural hazards they face, including earthquakes and tsunami.

Mr Orbell says fantastic detailed wall displays, testing whether you know what to do in an earthquake (drop, cover, hold) and fun hands-on activities such as mixing ingredients to create their own volcanic eruptions means some have become more interested in science, particularly earth science.

“My kids really enjoyed it. It was good value to reinforce and mirror their in-class learning. It let the children see firsthand why New Zealanders need to be aware of natural hazards,” says Mr Orbell.

All students who go through the programme are also given a challenge to develop their own action plan to ensure their families and whanau are better prepared for an emergency.

The third element of the programme is the East Coast LAB project which aims to encourage people to engage with and participate in science so they understand the risks, how to prepare and respond to hazard events such as earthquakes and tsunami, and how to recover.

The US National Science Foundation has selected the Hikurangi plate boundary as one of three places in the world where a large amount of research effort and money will be spent on understanding subduction plate boundary phenomena over the next decade. East Coast LAB will leverage off this research plus national research being carried out by GNS Science, NIWA and several NZ universities over the next few years.

To find out more about the National Aquarium’s education programmes, visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand website, or for more information on East Coast LAB see

12 May 2017

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