An annual event on the geography calendar for Nayland College is the year 12 trip to the West Coast and this year did not disappoint.
Over the course of two days, from the 14th-16th of March, Gavin Dickson’s class investigated the natural landscape of the West Coast and how people use it. The research was conducted near Westport and focussed on whether or not to mine the Denniston Plateau. The group also investigated the issue of tourism on the West Coast. They will apply this knowledge in two internal assessments and an external assessment later in the year.
In recent years many coal mines and gold mines have closed down. This made previously available locations inaccessible for the class to visit. For this reason, the emphasis of the trip this year was shifted more towards the tourism aspect of the area. Activities such as visiting Shantytown, Punakaiki, the Metro Caves, riding a steam train and panning for gold were offered to the students, who took full advantage of the opportunities.
Mr Dickson noted the high level of engagement of students, as they each took responsibility for the information they needed to collect, such as photos and interviews for their research. “I was there facilitating, not dominating the situation,” Mr Dickson said.
For Year 12 student Caitlin Reid, who participated on the trip, there were many highlights and she learnt a lot. “We were able to look at things from a different perspective, looking at it how other tourists see it,” she said.
On the last day the group had the opportunity to visit Shantytown, a tourist attraction replicating what life would have been like on the West Coast in the 1860’s. The enthusiasm of the students at dressing up as Victorian-era men and women and performing various tasks meant everybody who participated learnt a lot by having fun.
The West Coast is a popular choice as the destination for geography assessments because it still remains a very natural environment. “It is has a very distinct climate and land forms,” Mr Dickson said.
As well as this, it provides insight for the students into the current economic and social situation that has resulted from the mine closures, where many West Coasters have lost their jobs and significant industries have shut down due to the decreased need for coal.
Dickson finds inspiration for teaching and taking an interest in geography from the fact that the world is forever changing. “There’s always something new and exciting.”