Bringing rivers into schools


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Bringing rivers into schools

Rivers Project Engineer Andy White with Rapaura School students

The floods in July 2021 had an impact across Marlborough and now students at Rapaura School have a better understanding about its causes and our region’s protection measures.

Council Rivers Project Engineer Andy White says the ‘Rivers to Schools’ initiative is a key part of Council’s community programme under the three-year $5M Government and Council co-funded Resilient River Communities Wairau River Flood Protection Scheme.

“This project is now entering its third and final year having already delivered three new rockhead groynes on the Wairau Plain and significant rock armouring upstream of Renwick,” said Mr White.

“Rivers to Schools is a community initiative which enables us to bring rivers into schools using stream tables. These are an interactive educational tool used to demonstrate the changing nature of streams and rivers as they erode and deposit sediments along a landscape,” he said.

“When coupled with an inquiry-based approach to education, they provide opportunities for pupils to experiment with the landscape to see what changes occur in real time. Work of this nature is extremely important to our Marlborough community. It creates knowledge which will have benefits for future generations,” he said.

Using a stream table Mr White designed and built, he was able to interactively teach the year three and four students. “Several classes ended up attending due to the interest it generated across the school. It was particularly relevant for students whose homes had experienced flooding in July 2021,” he said.

The stream tables help students learn about how rivers form their pathways, how the Wairau Bar was created, how braided rivers are formed, how stopbanks are breached, the speed rivers flow, where stopbanks are needed and the importance of flood prevention and protection, among other topics.

“Everyone enjoyed both the challenges of putting together the table and all of the experiments,” said Mr White, who followed up the hands-on experiments with a school tour of the Lower Wairau.

“The response from pupils, teachers, and parents has been extremely positive with the children producing a book of thank you letters, and a film of their experiences,” he said.

Fifty five river projects nationwide received funding as part of the Government/Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit-administered Climate Resilience River Management Flood Protection Programme.

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