Here are some words about our current Mantle of the Expert work, which is with a class of year 4 students.

In this Mantle of the Expert unit the children are in role as a team of earth scientists who work in a fictional company called 'Geo Ready' (modelled on New Zealand’s real crown institute ‘GeoNet’).

Working in this role children will have jobs and tasks to complete that will lead to learning about:

a. New Zealand’s geological hazards: volcanos, earthquakes, and tsunami

b. Scientific equipment used to measure land movement/activity

c. How earth scientists at 'GeoNet' decide where to place their different monitoring systems. In making these decisions children will have to consider things such as types of land forms and rocks in an area, environmental factors such as weather, read maps, investigate history of land, look at old land records, and investigate land ownership and explore ways to seek permissions from land owners.

The work will involve inquiry research, writing in a range of genres including letter writing and report writing, reading a range of materials including lots of map-work covering a variety of keys and scales, and mathematical skills including measuring, and diagram/graph work.

We hope you enjoy sharing our learning journey and the discoveries we make! You can also read past learning journeys by selecting from 'Previous Mantle of the Expert Work at Muritai School', which is a tab on the right hand side of this blog page.

Detail from a map of Wellington geology

Sorting rocks

16 May 2013


Today we spent the morning poring over topographical maps.  We learned how to read the key to look for different information such as mountains, trig points, native forest, gravel roads, cliffs, sandbanks and lots more!  We also learned about contour lines and how they show how steep the land is (when they are close together the land is steep).  We even discovered that some of the different maps we had joined up!

These two found the longest mountain name in New Zealand: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitenatahu

Finding maps that join together.

We then spent time working on a logo to go with our company name ‘GeoReady’ and our mission statement ‘When the earth goes crazy we are the experts’.  There was a creative buzz in the classroom as we worked on these and next week we will use our logos to make ID cards for our drama work.  Here are some of the logo designs that were created.

Some of our logo designs.

Then we had a visit from Sara Page who works at GeoNet.  It was a great visit.  She gave us a lot of information, showed us some real equipment, answered all our questions, and even brought us all GeoNet magnets and pens to take home!  She also gave us a quiz and five children won prizes, which were very cool little torchlights!  We found out that Sophia’s grandad is one of the managers at GeoNet.  Here is what some of us wrote about her visit:

Sara talking to us

On Friday 17th of May Sara came to visit us.  She works for GeoNet, which is part of GNS.  She’s a public information specialist. She gave all of room 7 a GeoNet magnet and GeoNet pen.  She let us have a turn shaking and feeling an old seismometer.  A seismometer measures how big an earthquake was.  Inside a seismometer there is a rotating drum and this penlike thing.  When there’s an earthquake the pen wobbles and draws lines on the drum.  Although the seismometer is small it is very heavy.  There were 303 earthquakes in Wellington last month!!!!

Holding a seismometer

Sara works for GNS, she works in GeoNet.  My Grandpa John knows Sara very well.  GeoNet studies tsunami, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanos.  Sara told us about some instruments like a seismometer.  

She told us that in April 2013 there were 303 earthquakes isn’t that amazing, and it was only in Wellington.  

Sam B:
I held a real seismometer.  A Seismometer connects to their computers and tells them how big the earthquake was.  It felt about 10kg.  

They hire divers to drill a hole underwater and place a sensory guage to connect with the computers for Tsunmai information.

We got to hold a seismometer it was quite heavy.

Today Sara from GeoNet came to talk about the earth.  We were very lucky to have her.  She gave prizes for questions if we got them right, the prize was a torch.  She answered all our questions.  She gave us pens and magnets and she told us how many days it takes to get to Raoul Island, it takes 3 days.  At GeoNet her job is to tell the public about the earth [and the work they do with geological hazards] and she gets to go around New Zealand every 2 months.   She told us that there were 303 earthquakes last month in Wellington.  Most people only thought there were only 2 or 3 and last year in Wellington there was 3232.  She brought in an old seismometer and she let us hold it and shake it.  Shaking it was fun!  The seismometer is a thing that measures every movement of the earth.  When the earth has an earthquake it will make a funny sound and it is made out a magnet and wire and stuff like that.

Sara told us that once people at GeoNet put up a whole lot of equipment near Mt Tongariro then it erupted and destroyed it. [...]  We received a GeoNet pen and a GeoNet magnet.  There was small quiz for the class of five questions and if you got the right answer you won a small torch.

They have monitors for landslides, earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanos.

She first talked about some of the people at her work and there were jobs.  The jobs were technicians, systems development, websites, earthquake specialists, public information specialists, scientists, volcano specialists and managers.

I might want to work for GeoNet.

Sara gave us lots of interesting information incluidng posters, maps, and booklets - Thanks Sara!

10 May 2013


Today was our first day of our new Mantle of the Expert unit.  We began our work by exploring a space in the classroom that had a range of maps (bathymetry and geological), a range of books on geology, a table of interesting looking rocks (kindly lent to us to examine by a real geologist), and some signs such as ‘Staff Board’, ‘GeoReady’, and ‘Equipment and Tool Cupboard’.  As we had a look around we talked about what this space might represent.  We shared our ideas and decided that it was a workspace for people who study rocks (geologists) and work with maps (geographers).  We decided that the sign ‘GeoReady’ was the name of the company.

Exploring fictional workspace
We then had some more discussion in small groups to find out what we all knew already about ‘geology’.  The knowledge we had between us is a great starting point for our topic.  As we talked about what we already knew some good questions came up about the difference between plate boundaries and faults, deep (geological) time, and land movement and formation.  Here are some inquiry questions that arose today:

  • What is a fault line?  Is it the same as the place where two plates meet?  Some of us think NZ has only 1 or maybe 2 faults.

  • One rock we looked at had shells inside it.  Some of us described the shells as fossils and some talked about how “sand covered the shells up and then turned slowly to stone”.  But there was quite a discussion about how long this would take – some ideas were ten thousand years or maybe a million years or perhaps just 20 years?

  • Is the land always moving?  Or does it only move when there is a big land event like an earthquake?

  • Is the study of rocks on other planets geology?

We were lucky today to have some real rocks to look at closely and describe.  Here are some pictures of us looking at rocks and what we thought about them. We are going to find out some more about these rocks later on in our work.


“ there are tiny diamonds, crystals – diamonds are a type of crystal” Sandy
"it feels rough and sharp, and it is an interesting shape" Eliza and Esme
"it has sparkly green  and small blackish bits" Alana
"maybe it came from a waterfall in New Zealand" Alana, Eliza, and Esme
"it is black and sparkly their might be diamonds in it"Sam McR, Ethan, and Baxter
"it might be from a mine" Sam McR, Ethan, and Baxter
"this rock sparkles, it has a couple of small ditches at the top" Millie, Holly, and Lucy
"this rock looks like plastic and clay" Sophia
"it feels sandy, it is oval, smooth" Henry, Seb, and Finn
"it looks like 2 rocks joined together" Sam B and Sam R
"it looks like a poached egg.  It has crystal stuff inside.  It feels smooth on top and bumpy on the bottom.  You can see yellowish stuff when you hold it up to the light and it is sort of see through, it is amazing" Kahu and Finn

We also visited the GeoNet blog (link on side of this page) and read about some of the work they do.  We then came up with some questions for Sara who works at GeoNet and is coming to visit us to help us with our inquiry work next week.  

We then drew some tools for our equipment cupboard using information we found on the GeoNet blog (shovels, bags of concrete, seismic monitors, data cards, buckets, torches….)

Our Equipment Toolshed

Our final activity today was wording some mission statements for our company GeoReady.  We had to think carefully about the words we chose so they were clear, effective, and catchy!  Here are the statements that made it to the final vote, the first two statements were our winners! (to be seen on letterheads, staff ID cards, and company signs in the near future).

Geo Ready: When the earth is going crazy we are the experts. (Alana, Oscar, and Kahu)

Geo Ready: Geological Hazard Watch - we’ve got our eye on you! (Lachlan)

Geo Ready: We monitor the nation (Luke)

We are ready for geological hazards (Seb)

Geo Ready is ready for action (Sophia)

We help with geological hazards (Eliza)

2 May 2013

Ancient Greece Mantle of the Expert Unit Below

This is a bridge post between our last Mantle of the Expert unit and our current one.  

Here are some words about our last year's Mantle of the Expert work with year 3 and 4 students, which is described in the posts below.  To view the learning journey from the beginning you need to go to older posts at the bottom of this page.  Previous Mantle of the Expert work I have done at Muritai School is also recorded on a number of different blogs.  To link to these you can click on them under 'Previous Mantle of the Expert work at Muritai School' on the right hand side of this page.

In the unit described below here we learnt about Ancient Greece in-role as archeologists who specialise in the study of artifacts from the Golden Age of Ancient Greece, 479-431BC.

We spent some time in-role as Ancient Athenians living c450BC.In this frame students experienced examples of daily life as Ancient Greeks and came across objects and stories of the time.

The children switched between these two frames throughout the unit. The different frames informed each other as the objects and stories they encountered as Athenians from the Golden Age of Ancient Greece provided the knowledge and expertise they required as modern day archeologists. The artifacts they uncovered as archeologists required out of role inquiry work to find out how to interpret their finds. By stepping into the shoes of the Ancient Athenians we had the opportunity to play out our ideas and in this way consolidated our learning.