Fibres at the Farm

May 18, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Wool, hair, feathers, fur and leather! The Girls’ School Year 4-6 trip to Ambury Regional Park was a sensory overload to initiate the unit of enquiry about fibres in their science classes. Ambury farm park lies among the southern suburbs fronting the Manukau Harbour, with farm animals roaming the open pasture and birds habiting the shoreline. The park rangers also provide educational talks and demonstrations on a number of topics relating to the farm’s processes. The girls are in the early stages of studying fibres, so the farm expedition provided a perfect opportunity for the students to discover the origin and uses of natural, non-synthetic fibres.

The 82 students along with their teachers and parent helpers were divided into four groups to take part in a number of activities. In the farm’s ‘classroom’ the park ranger staged a competition to test the girls’ intuition about fibres and their source. The students had to match 10 different fibres to the animal that they came from. While some were obvious, such as horse hair or chicken feathers, distinguishing between Copworth and Merino sheep wool proved much trickier! In the shearing shed, the ranger led the girls through how sheep are raised to produce wool. The various properties of wool, such as lustre and crimp, were explained with examples for the girls to see, touch and smell. This tactile connection is at the heart of the purpose of Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC). The girls were taught the techniques to create yarn and felt by handspinning and wet felting, with the results taken back to school to study the methods and uses of these products in further detail.

The visit also included a self-guided farm walk, in which the students had the chance to get up close to cows, pigs, goats, rabbits, sheep, horses and birds. In each interaction with the animals, the girls were encouraged to examine the animals’ fibres, think about the purpose they serve, what they could be used for and the similarities and differences between each of the fibres. One of the beauties of EOTC is that it provides learning opportunities wider than the specific unit of study that it is designed for. The farm walk taught the girls about how to behave around the animals and prompted many questions about farming processes.

By the end of the trip, the girls were filled with an abundance of information about fibres and excited to learn more. This combination of enthusiasm of knowledge is the ideal outcome of a successful EOTC experience.

Education Outside the Classroom

Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) is used at various stages of students’ learning to create engaging links between the classroom and real-world experiences. EOTC has been is use in New Zealand schools for more than a century to expand the breadth of learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. These experiences can range from 10 minutes in the school grounds, to a half day visit to the local museum, a camping experience, or overseas trip. The excursions provide students with a range of contexts to develop key competencies, explore their values and the values of others, and apply learning across the curriculum. An EOTC outing can be utilised during or at the backend of a unit of enquiry to solidify the knowledge and skills the students have developed. Alternatively, it can take place to introduce a unit of enquiry, to load the students with material which is then extended and advanced in lessons back in the classroom. 

Click here to see more photos. 


Back to News List