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Trisha at Home

NAME: Trisha Korth

PROJECT: Antarctica/Exploration ICEBLOCK

= Exploration of the Ice, and Coastal Ecosystems of Benthic Life with Outreach into Classrooms for Kids.

SCHOOL: Warrington School



Trisha Korth has been an active tramping and outdoor enthusiast for more than 20 years. The wonder, power and interconnectedness of nature has always struck a chord in her. It led her to pursue a degree in Science, trek to Everest Base Camp, explore NZ's diverse tramps, work with Enviroschools as a facilitator and take up Primary teaching! When the opportunity for a Teacher Fellowship with a NIWA based Antarctic Project presented itself, it seemed the most logical thing to apply.

Under the Ross Sea ice lives an amazingly dense and diverse range of organisms, in one of the least modified coastal zones on earth. The coastal sea organisms are very slow growing and long lived e.g. some Antarctic shellfish live up to 80 years old. This makes them particularly vulnerable to changes in their environment, as populations are slow to recover or adapt. Ice dynamics inevitably have a major influence on the structure and function of these coastal seafloor communities. Surveys and sampling key organisms along the latitudinal gradient of the Ross Sea coast give researchers an understanding of these ecosystems and helps predict the impact of sea ice fluctuations, ocean acidification, fisheries and tourism. This is important work in helping preserve this unique ecosystem.

Trisha is currently gaining knowledge in coastal marine life and ocean acidification from scientists at NIWA in Wellington and Dunedin as well as reading material. Close links with schools are being made and technological tools being investigated so that educational outreach can occur prior, during and beyond Trisha being down on the BIG ICE.


Trisha was fortunate enough to be a part of the NIWA K082 team that spent one month in Antarctica, researching the environmental impact on benthic life along the Ross Sea coast. Having the opportunity to experience first hand scientific field work with team members diving under the sea ice at New Harbour, has given her an appreciation for the extensive number of skills, equipment and organisation required to manage such an undertaking. The research work with the K082 team in Antarctica involved scallop dissections and live scallop transfer to NZ for ocean acidification research, sea-water sampling and analysis, sediment flora and fauna analysis, fish dissections and brittlestar population + food variation experiments on the New Harbour sea floor. Trisha also developed an open education resource via a wikieducator site, as part of her educational outreach for school children. She also had close contact via school visits, audio conferencing and google discussion group with 9 schools following her journey in Antarctica.

Trisha felt the key highlights for her time spent pre, during her time and post Antarctica field work with NIWA include:

  • Learning how to develop a wikisite with resources for teachers and children, including effective use of photos and videoclips.
  • Participating in the post-graduate leadership course at Otago University. This provided an excellent opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals with a passion for Science.
  • A life changing experience in Antarctica where she saw Emperor penguins, discovered a mummified seal, climbed an iceberg, explored Antarctic glaciers, supported divers going under 4m of sea ice, and went on solo walks up the vast, expansive Dry Valleys.
  • Being welcomed and incorporated into the K082 team and participating fully in their activities in Antarctica.

Seeing the eyes of children light up as she told them her Antarctic stories and showed her slideshow to school classes.

Valuable Learning

One of the most valuable learning Trisha made during her fellowship was re-vitalising her science interest and enthusiasm. The preparation before the Antarctic trip and the Antarctic experience itself provided many challenges that enabled Trisha's self-development to expand in terms of initiative, creativity, determination and gaining technological confidence. She is continuing to learn that when one is open and prepared to take up opportunities that life presents along with following ones own ideas and aspirations with passion and determination, then amazing things are possible!

(Comment.gif: Trisha - cool project - can you please share your findings with the larger WikiEd community as they become available...I'm thinking there is wide interest for your project, particularly the themes of biology, environment and sustainability. Randy Fisher 18:56, 17 October 2009 (UTC))