Hukerenui School Community Problem Solving Team 2018

Overview of project

The team called the RATS (Responsible Agricultural Team of Scientists) saw a problem that was threatening the demise of a previous problem solving team’s work. They realised that there was a problem with capability within the school to continue and grow the projects that the previous team had resourced on the school land. The projects were growing lavender, growing Manuka, distilling lavender and Manuka oils, making product, farming alpacas for their fibre, planting an orchard, understanding how to use the produce and turning it into product, caring for a bee hive and harvesting the honey and farming 5ha of maize.

The RATS team realised that the resources provided by experts and sponsors and which supported the school to use 71% of its unutilised land better for education was going to fail if they did not think of some solutions.

Their solutions after working through many criteria, became the basis of working towards capability and sustainability.

They were divided into 5 categories:

  • To develop knowledge of science
  • To re-structure use of time
  • To expand product and produce
  • Marketing and Social enterprise
  • Sustainability plans

Developing knowledge

The team wrote an implementation plan using science to develop capability within each student and teacher and created lesson plans, delivered the lessons, ran many experiments with students to develop their knowledge based on science. All their experiments were used to implement on their authentic learning outdoor projects with students feeling empowered and geared for success.

The whole school showed an increase of 2 curriculum levels in science, and showcased their own Science Fair expo.

Restructuring use of time

There were two issues here. Because there were five authentic learning projects, classes rotated through and only spent one term per year on each one. This created the problem that there was no continuity in their learning and no stake in the result or harvest.

The other problem was that there was never a time slot where the whole school worked on the projects together; making teaching and tuakana teina situations impossible. Older students in our multi-levelled classes are now able to teach the younger new students in the class.

They solved both these issues by creating a whole school time slot so the team can go to different classes at the same time to do experiments and teach, and therefore providing time for classes to support each other at the same time.

They also changed the classes termly time table to sticking to a project for a whole year. Teachers and classes chose a project that aligned to their strengths, passions and ages best. This meant that each class and their teachers will become an expert in their field, working towards learning how to get the best yield.

To expand product and produce

Using the knowledge gained from their science experiments, students started propagating, planting, making, tending and developing with a purpose in mind. They learnt about soil science and worked towards expanding, now using their own capability rather than buying in or depending on sponsors.

The school added to their projects by learning how to make their own compost and taking responsibility for recycling their food, and developing a vegetable garden, not using raised beds but rather using soil science to build the fertility of the soil.

Marketing and Social enterprise

Problem was that although the Christmas craft market day has grown more successful each year, it only provided one platform and one day per year for sales. This resulted in products made and geared towards this day rather than an ongoing enterprise, learning about cost and profit.

The team’s solution was to develop an online shop in the form of a website on which they will promote their products to sell NZ wide. This means they have a platform each day and can now reach out further than their immediate community.

An implementation plan and handbook to use the website was developed by the team.


Futuristic plans written to develop authentic learning which includes sequence of lessons/experiments to develop knowledge

Older year groups returning to support students in their previous class with their new learning on projects. This is possible because of the time slot available in the week where the whole school works, experiments and learns on their projects and can therefore support each other where needed.

The teachers all have handbooks with lessons to follow made by the RATS team.

Some significant progress:

  • From 1 beehive to 9 beehives!
  • Expol beehive experiment
  • Buzz tech beehive sensor data – recording the temperature and the humidity of the hive
  • Beekeeper magazine article
  • Social Enterprise – Hospice and letter of gratitude from patient
  • Science progress across all levels in school
  • Whole school teaching and learning time – supporting continuation of the projects
  • Enterprise – creating a website with an online shop to provide a daily platform for selling our products
  • Understanding the medicinal properties of the plants we use in our products