Saturday, November 6, 2010

Clean up New Zealand week

This was us explaining to our jumping junior JS buddy what we have been doing in the Year 6 Enrichment group.  We were picking up regular rubbish for Clean Up NZ Week.

These cheerful children walked across the sturdy bridge with their trusty tutors. They looked at rubbish on the banks, the 280 trees that we planted and our beautiful stream. 

The flax hid lots of rubbish that we suspect blew from our school.

Here we are examining the acrid-scented rubbish we found in the area.

A Year 2 helper enthusiastically helping us!

Another marvellous future ECO agent...
 Up the alleyway we found rather a lot of rubbish of all sorts. But happily, not all of it was from EPS...
Down beside the walk-way we only found a little rubbish because we had already been active scouring the bush for rubbish...

This was all of us with our Junior buddies. It was a day of fabulous fun facts for friends on a fine Friday.

It was the last week of Term 3 when the Year 6 Enrichment Group collected the Year 2s and trundled our way down to our adopted stream. Are you wondering what on earth  we were planning on doing? Our purpose was to pick up at least some of the superfluous rubbish littering the area that we were responsible for. We were armed with our Manukau City Council approved gloves for hygiene.

Not all of the rubbish that we found was from our school, of course. We did find ripped pages of paper and lunch wrappers that we instantly recognised from our own school supplies, though!

We were dismayed to find about a dozen drinking cans scattered under trees and around bushes. I myself picked up one particular can: It was still half-full of liquid, which I suspect was beer. What a waste! None of these things were good for the environment. So many cans of beer would choke up our stream for sure.

On our way back we stumbled upon something very dangerous for both animals and children: there were shards of sharp and deadly glass poking at us from the grass. Thank goodness we were wearing gumboots and gloves to pick all that up...

The Year 2s returned to their classes after helping to gather all the rubbish. They washed their gloves and cleaned their muddy boots and then told their class exactly what they had discovered by the stream and what the Year 6 Enrichment Group have been busy doing since Term 2. 

Hopefully, we have inspired these young students to be looking out for our stream and our local environment.

( S.Z )

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weeding Patrol

For the last three weeks we have been working on clearing tradescantia from a patch of the Elm Park stream where we collect our weekly data samples. Ranger Robynne dropped us in some black plastic bags so we collected up the tradescantia that we pulled out over the previous two weeks. We are happy to report that we did not find much rubbish in and around the reserve. Great news. The stream is still blocked by fallen trees from the last storm.

Picking up the dried out weed that we collected

One clear patch...

There is still loads of the pest tradecantia to remove... it is all along the stream

Bagged tradescantia left for the MCC contractors to remove

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rubbish, Rubbish and More Rubbish!

This a picture of us with the rubbish we found and the giant tube!
Back at the creek this week (Friday 22 October) we found more rubbish but this time we found a giant tube which was nearly our shoulder height! The rubbish started to get strange because we found a stick that which the tip was sharp. We also found more plastic and paper from our school; we found a ball and chunks of wood that were just dumped in the stream.  We recycled the paper and cardboard we found in our recycling bin.
We also took out lots of tradescantia and made a big pile. We are waiting for the blue rubbish bags and then the Council contractors can pick it up when we email Robynne.


Giant Blockage at the Stream

This is pile of polystyrene is as tall as us standing up.
The blockage is made up of lots of twigs and leaves in the middle of the stream!
Last week there was a blockage of twigs and leaves, it could impact on the macro-invertebrates because without flowing water it would die because it has no oxygen. We tried with a giant stick and try and loosen it but it didn't do much help. It was also blocked by a pile of polystyrene. H.L

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Learning about Threats to our Stream

We had another session with Robynne from Manukau City Council Parks on the threats to our local stream environment. She told us a great deal about the problem with weeds in New Zealand. There have been 2000 introduced plant species but we only have 200 native plant varieties. We are being swamped by some particular plants which have been escaping into our forests and parks. 

The Manukau City Council has produced a pamphlet for people so they can recognise and control the problem plants.

We learned:
  • our particular problem weed at the EPS Stream is Tradescantia (commonly known as Wandering Jew)
  • some pest plants can grow from a single small piece (tradescantia is one of these) and they should be disposed of carefully- not thrown into a pile or dumped on waste ground or parks
  • how to roll up the tradescantia plant carefully and email the MCC when it is ready for contractors to collect
Here are photos from samples she brought in for us, and from her slide presentation:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Week 9 Term 3 2010 Conservation Week

Again our group worked down at the creek taking water measurements and checking on any new rubbish around the path and stream.

Some of the rubbish collected
Some areas were disappointing...on the opposite bank particularly, near the houses
Happily, not as much rubbish as last week. This is a good sign that we are keeping on top of the rubbish problem.

Our school recyling bin was vandalised so we have to get another bin.

Article for the Manukau City Council

Taking Action!
By the Elm Park Yr 6 Enrichment Group 2010
This article has also been published and can be found on

Next to our school we have a park, and a stream.  In our Y6 enrichment group we thought we’d look after the stream and while doing so the park became our responsibility too. We heard about the Adopt a Park program and decided to go for it!  We needed ACTION if we wanted our school and the Elm Park reserve to be a healthy, sustainable environment.  Kids thinking for the future!!! We became involved in many different ways…

How we use the Elm Park Reserve
We use our park for several things such as Push Play Day. The whole school does fun activities on this fun-filled day. We also do soccer training for the soccer team on this field as our field is always filled with people playing games.  On athletics day we do high jump, sprints and many other activities.  These are just a few of the reasons why we want to take care of this field.

Why our park is special to us
The public play some sports play games there on Saturday where there’s plenty of space to run around. Our park also has a very inspiring landscape. And after school, kids like to roll down the grassy hill just to have fun.

Our school can take advantage of our park in many ways. In warm summer days, some of the seniors use our park to hold sports events. Younger students even use our park for cross-country. Without our park, our school wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things.

Our Involvement with the Park:
In Year 2 some people in our group went down to the bank of the stream to plant harakeke/flax. We planted the flax in 2006. We planted about 100 plants down on the bank of the stream. The children were helped by adults to plant the flax. The flax started out very small but now they are gigantic.
Harakeke (Flax)

We also took some measurements in year 4. We went down with some things to measure what the temperature in the water and we collected some macroinvetebrates. We collected some but most were macroinvertebrates that live in polluted or mediocre water. None of them were part of the group of macroinverterbrates that only live in pristine water. So we know that our stream's water can be improved.
Identifying invertebrates

Colour coded chart tells us which macroinvertebrates are present in our stream and the water quality

The Year 6 enrichment group have been collecting and observing information from the Elm Park stream. We have been trying to monitor the health of our stream. The data we have been collecting includes the clarity, pH, the temperature and any visible pollution.
Observations on the bridge

Collecting data

We also took some measurements in year 4.  We went down with some things to measure what the temperature in the water and we collected some macroinvetebrates.  We collected some but most were macroinvertebrates that live in polluted water.  None of them were part of the best macroinvertebrates.

This data is posted on the WaiCare website for the scientists. We have investigated the stream’s health by looking for macroinvertebrates that indicate clean water.

It seems that our plantings have made a difference to our stream. In the past two years our steam seemed polluted and dirty but now we have made such a difference that there is only a little pollution and we can see the bottom of the steam. However, our stream has shrunk over the years. We heard that one family used to kayak easily down the length of the stream. Another sad thing is that storm water runs into the stream. Some other disappointments are that while we were trying to save our stream others were polluting it - there was rubbish, paint cans, an old porcelain toilet and a lot of other litter everywhere. We have started on the small litter but we are going to clean it up further in Clean Up NZ Week. Something else that shocked us was that there was a tree that fell towards the stream during a storm. It could have blocked the stream. The good part is that now we have more space to plant native trees.
Rubbish from houses

Adopt a Park
This term we have been working harder now we have chosen to be part of the Adopt a Park programme. We have been helping to plant trees with MCC park rangers and collecting litter that drifts to the park from our school. We were quite shocked by the litter that gets blown to the stream. We showed the litter at the school assembly.
Tree planting with help from some keen Yr 4 kids   

Learning how to plant a tree correctly

We will keep our project going. Conservation Week is coming and Clean Up NZ Week. We will continue taking action!