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Meet Gerd Banke – Nelson science teacher on a marine biosecurity mission

by Gerd Banke

 

Ko Roenbjerg nga puke

Ko Limfjord te awa

Ko Tauiwi ahau

Ko Viking tōku tupuna

No Denmark me Spain oku tūpuna

Ko Whakatu tōku turangawaewae 

Ko Gerd Banke ahau

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

 

Kia ora, my name is Gerd and I am a science and biology teacher at Nayland College in Nelson. I was born in Denmark, a small country but like Aotearoa a country with a long coastline. Before becoming a teacher, I studied marine ecology and botany at the University of Otago, where I later became a research assistant. For the first half of 2022 I have been swapping the classroom for the Cawthron Institute’s labs, having been selected as one of eight teachers in Aotearoa to embark on a science teaching leadership programme.

The programme, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and delivered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi, is designed to give science teachers practical science experience and leadership skills that they can use towards revitalising their schools’ science curriculum. At Cawthron I am being hosted by Xavier Pochon and Anastasija Zaiko, who are both part of the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox DETECT team. With great help from my hosts, I am in the process of increasing my understanding of environmental DNA and how it can be used as an early detection tool for marine invaders.  At the same time, I am in contact with teachers at our local schools discussing how we can increase our students’ understanding of and awareness about biosecurity. We are establishing a collaboration between our local schools, Cawthron scientists and the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox. Our aim is to develop an engaging and well-resourced outreach programme that brings eDNA technologies into the classroom as a tool for students to learn about cutting edge technology, and at the same time to develop a strong sense of kaitiakitanga for their local environment.

 

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