Educator Sally Smith reached a special milestone this week, when she taught Watercare’s 100,000th pupil.
Over the years, Sally has kept a careful record of the number of pupils and schools she’s visited all over the Auckland region and on 15 August, Long Bay Primary School, North Shore was the venue for the historic lesson.
After water activities in the playground, it was time to celebrate with a giant cake made by Watercare's billing services advisor Catherine Singh. The chocolate cake had a water theme and featured a reservoir sitting on a hill, with a water pipe, leading to miniature houses and buildings.
Sally said it was a great way to celebrate the occasion.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the cake. It was such a special way to commemorate a special day!”
It took Catherine four hours to create the giant cake, which was covered in fondant icing. “I really enjoyed making it. Seeing the look on the children’s faces made it all worth it.”
Watercare’s free education lessons for Auckland school kids (Kindy to Intermediate school age) began in 2001. The original programme was called Adopt A Stream and involved freshwater sampling. Sally joined Watercare five years later and as more lessons were added, the service was renamed Watercare’s Education Programme.
Teachers are encouraged to visit Watercare’s website to find curriculum links and FAQs.
An experienced primary school teacher, Sally has a natural rapport with youngsters. Many of the lessons, such as ‘water quality’ involve a field trip element. Learning how to catch and identify freshwater macroinvertebrates or find out about the effects of pollution is all part of the fun.
Water experiments cover magnification, refraction and surface tension. In wastewater lessons, students find out how waste solids and liquids are treated and where they end up.
Other lessons involve drama― one of Sally’s favourite teaching tools.
Last year, Sally expanded her talents by becoming a children’s author. Her book “Sam and Flo’s Amazing Watery Adventure” brought to life the story of the water cycle and two free copies were given to every primary and intermediate school in Auckland.
Sally also co-produced two “Freshwater Detectives” videos, presented by The Edge’s Randell and students from Northcross Intermediate School. They show teachers and students how to conduct a water quality field trip and interpret the results. Kits are available for purchase via the Watercare website.
With the 100,000th lesson completed, Sally is not taking things easy. Instead she’s working on a follow up to the book, detailing how wastewater is treated and safely discharged.
“I think it’s going to be a winner,” says Sally, “Kids can’t get enough poo stories!”