Taranaki's Auroa School has put science into action to track a range of animals around the region

Late last year Mr Webb and his Room 3 class worked with local marine scientists on the Curious Minds funded Project Hotspot. If you haven’t heard about this award winning project, then do yourself a favour and check out the link.

Through Project Hotspot the students learned about orca (kera wera), reef heron (matuku moana), little blue penguin (korora), New Zealand fur seal (kekeno), and a host of other coastal threatened species. Participants (including parents, teachers, and the wider community) explored the potential threats that exist to these coastal species in the Taranaki region.

Following on from Project Hotspot the students were curious to know what pest species were present at their school. With help from the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust the students created tracking tunnels and found hedgehog, rat, and possibly mouse footprints. The Taranaki Regional Council provided a tracking camera that is motion activated and initial results showed several cats were frequenting the school grounds.

In an attempt to figure out which cats were feral, Auroa school reached out to the local community asking for photos of any pet cats in the area. The students also decided to ramp up their investigation and began to place bait in front of the camera to entice the cats into a more photogenic position.

After reviewing their footage Room 3 found that hedgehogs were sabotaging their experiment by tipping over the bait pot. To overcome the onslaught of mischievous spiny mammals, the students worked with Matt from TRC to redesign and manufacture (utilising their 3D printer) the bait pots they were using. Now at version 6, the Auroa School anti-hedgehog bait delivery system is a marvel of modern engineering. The students have video evidence that proves their bait pot is a fortress where hedgehog spirit breaks like waves on the shore. And unlike many of our sensitive coastal habitats, these custom-made bait pots won’t erode over time, they are built to last.

You can keep up to date with all of Room 3’s activities on their class blog here.

You can read more about Room 3’s custom made bait pot here and here.