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

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)

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