Marieke Latimer teaches at Manawaru School and is focused on exploring the Nature of Science in an agricultural setting through her current placement at DairyNZ as part of the MBIE funded Science Teaching Leadership Programme.

Marieke says that the Royal Society Te Apārangi administered programme has provided the opportunity to explore her passion of fuelling curious minds, by being immersed in some of DairyNZ’s key research projects that are focused on helping future-proof the dairy sector.

“A lot of students at my school, and other local schools, come from a farming background. I saw the opportunity to do my placement with DairyNZ as a way of making the work and science more relevant for my students,” explains Marieke.

“We are helping feed curious minds, so they have more understanding on what science is, how it works and what it means for them in their everyday lives. Every student can help make positive change in the future, and this is how I can help provide them with the passion and tools at a young age.”

Raised on a dairy farm, Marieke had some knowledge of farm life and operations, however, after 18 years off farm, her work on one of DairyNZ’s research farms opened her eyes to the interesting and complex work that goes on each day.

“No two days have been the same. One day I will be helping teach cows how to use new technology, and the next I am testing milk samples in a lab. This has helped open my eyes to the complex nature of research and farming, and the wide range of career opportunities I wouldn’t have considered otherwise,” says Marieke.

Marieke with some of the cows at DairyNZ’s Lye Farm.

“I’ve also realised how many science projects run for long periods. In the classroom, we often showcase quick chemical reactions, like mixing baking soda and vinegar. I will now do more long-term projects with the students, to showcase this learning.”

A key DairyNZ project which Marieke has been involved with is the Less Methane programme, where they are exploring solutions to reduce methane emissions on New Zealand farms. Other work has included looking at animal behaviour, testing samples, and analysing and understanding data.

“I’m excited to not only bring the science and learnings to my classroom and school, but also others in my community, and throughout the country. Other teachers on the same programme and cohort will be receiving the resources and tools I create, and can take that back to their classes too,” says Marieke.

The Science Teaching Leadership Programme goes for 2 years, with 6 months of this spent working in an organisation as part of professional development, and the next 18 months focused on school-wide science development and bringing the learnings back to the classroom.

Marieke doing some milk testing in the lab.

“This has been a great experience, where I have been supported by a passionate team who are excited to share their work and knowledge. I am now beginning to concentrate on how to build learning resources that can make this come to life in the classroom.”

Media contact
Celine Walters-Gray
Media specialist
p: 027 247 9876
e: celine.walters@dairynz.co.nz

Page last updated:

15 May 2024