Scientists meet Scientists: ECE ‘Back of House’ visits (Group 2: Kiwi Kids ECE)

Throughout 2015, young children from three Wellington regional Early Childhood Centres (ECE) have been thinking and working as scientists as part of the ‘It’s a Bugs Life’ partnership project with Te Papa Education. In celebration of the mahi (work), their teachers and educators from Te Papa arranged for the children to come and meet with more experienced scientists working here at Te Papa. In doing so, the children would get to go behind the scenes, seeing the amazing collections they work with, and the special lab areas they work in.

Our second group to visit (on 2 Nov), was Kiwi Kids Early Childhood Centre from Karori. They arrived up at Tory Street in the mid-morning to meet with four of our Te Papa scientists: Colin Miskelly, Andrew Stewart, Phil Sirvid and Ricardo Palma.

Colin is one of our bird experts, but as Curator of Vertebrates, he has good knowledge of frogs and lizards too – a real interest of the children from Kiwi Kids. Colin took the children into the spirits collection area, which is made of hundreds of containers full of specimens preserved in ethanol.

The children were fascinated by the different frogs they were shown. They noticed that the native New Zealand frogs were much smaller than some of the others in the collection. One of the larger species had been dissected so that you could see it’s insides!

Looking at a larger species of frog, Photographer: Amanda Rodgers, © Te Papa

Looking at a larger species of frog, Photographer: Amanda Rodgers, © Te Papa

Seeing a tuatara, and a jar full of small tuatara eggs was also very special for the children.

A jar of tuatara eggs! Photographer: Amanda Rodgers, © Te Papa

A jar of tuatara eggs! Photographer: Amanda Rodgers, © Te Papa

Andrew Stewart, one of our fish experts, came to collect the group and take them over to the fish lab area. He showed the group a range of fishes; the Big-eye clingfish and Pygmy sleeper were really small, the Blobfish was really ugly (poor Blobfish!), and the Anglerfish (Andrew’s favourite) had a tree like thing growing out of it’s head! The children learnt too that not all sharks are big, when Andrew showed them the Cigar shark. They also saw the huge tanks that the big fish in the collection are kept in – including Sunny Bill the Sunfish!

Checking out the Big-eye Clingfish with Andrew, Photographer: Amanda Rodgers, © Te Papa

Checking out the Big-eye clingfish with Andrew, Photographer: Amanda Rodgers, © Te Papa

The Cigar Shark, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

The Cigar Shark, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Group picture by Sunny Bill's tank, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Group picture by Sunny Bill’s tank, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

After having lunch at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, and having a bit of a run around, the children came back to Tory Street to meet with Ricardo Palma, our insect expert, and Phil Sirvid, our spider expert.

With Ricardo, the children got to see Giant Wētā, Cave Wētā and Tree Wētā, who although all belonging to the same family, look quite distinct from each other. They learnt that, contrary to popular belief, that wētā are not just found in New Zealand either – they live in Australia and South America among other places too.

Looking at Giant Wētā with Ricardo, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Looking at Giant Wētā with Ricardo, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

The stick insects that Phil brought out were a big hit too! Did you know that the female has a much thicker body than the male because she needs to lay eggs?

Looking at male and female Stick Insects, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Looking at male and female Stick Insects, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Phil showed the children some New Zealand spider specimens, as well as his big tarantula! The group got into a very useful discussion about how to draw spiders. Phil recommends drawing two circles (as spiders have two body parts – a combined head and thorax called a cephalothorax and an abdomen). You arrange the eight legs around only the front circle because all spiders legs are attached only to their cephalothorax. The spiders eight eyes go on its circle too near the front.

Phil and his tarantula! Photographer: Newtown Kindy, © Newtown Kindy

Phil and his tarantula! Photographer: Newtown Kindy, © Newtown Kindy

Check out our post about Imagine Childcare’s Scientist meet Scientist visit here if you haven’t already. Details of Raumati South Kindergarten’s visit will be coming shortly!

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