• With guidance from Project Hotspot scientists and teachers, the students carry out the project planning, data collection, data analysis, data quality control, hypothesis formulating, field surveys and science communication.
• Through asking questions, the students use their own curious minds to develop the project from beginning to end.
• The Project Hotspot schools programme addresses the following questions:
o Where are the hotspots for these species?
o Why do these hotspots occur?
o What are the greatest threats to these species and their habitats?
• Students capture local knowledge on orca, reef herons, little blue penguins and NZ fur seals by interviewing friends and family who visit the coast on a regular basis.
• Students record the sightings using the Project Hotspot NatureWatch NZ monitoring pages (cloud-based collection and mapping).
• Hotspots are identified through data analysis.
• Students investigate why species hotspots occur where they do and what are the main threats to these species. This part of the project involves formulating and testing hypotheses and includes an element of field work.
• Schools hold a joint workshop to communicate their findings to people who can make a difference.
• The project provides a two-way learning process whereby the community, government authorities, conservation groups and industry (end users) can learn from the students’ findings.
• The information gained through using this citizen science approach can be applied by end users to better protect threatened species and their habitats.
• Project Hotspot links well with the New Zealand Science Curriculum, helping students to develop as citizen scientists.
• The project is relevant to the Nature of Science strand of the curriculum, enabling students to learn what science is and how scientists work. Through designing and conducting their own studies while working closely with science partners, students learn first-hand how scientists carry out investigations and how the results are communicated to make links between scientific knowledge and everyday decisions and actions.
• The project is also relevant to the Living World strand of the curriculum, by facilitating learning about the diversity of life and life processes, and the impact of humans on all forms of life. The emphasis of this strand is on the biology of New Zealand, including the sustainability of New Zealand’s unique fauna and flora and distinctive ecosystems, linking directly with Project Hotspot.
• Links with the New Zealand Science Curriculum are developed through lesson plans.
• Project Hotspot Phase 1 | Working with schools from North Taranaki (Highlands, Oakura, Huirangi, Manukorihi, Urenui, St Pius X)
• Project Hotspot Phase 2 | Working with schools from South Taranaki (Rahotu, Auroa, Manaia)