A voyage of discovery… Literally!

22 February 2018

Dr Rosa Hughes-Currie, alumna of our flagship Teach First NZ programme, is on a literal voyage of discovery aboard The JOIDES Resolution, a ship that is conducting research into what will happen to Antarctic ice shelves as the climate changes. 


Kia ora koutou, my name’s Rosa and I started my journey with Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu in 2016 and I’ve spent the past two years teaching Physics at Massey High School in West Auckland. Now, I’m spending three months on the JOIDES Resolution in the great Southern Ocean as an Outreach Coordinator. We are here to develop an understanding of how Antarctic ice changed in the past, before I return to the Science classroom in March.

Scientists are here because they know that climate change is going to drastically affect Antarctic ice and have a massive impact on sea level rise, but we still don’t know exactly how much of the Antarctic ice sheets are likely to melt. The scientists on board are looking at geological records from millions of years ago of previous warm periods in Earth’s history, and trying to understand exactly how climate change in the past impacted Antarctica’s ice sheets.

Our ship, the JOIDES Resolution, is part of the International Ocean Discovery Program, (IODP for short,) which is a team of 23 nations including New Zealand who are working together to discover more about what lies below the ocean floor. The bottom of the ocean is one of the last great unexplored frontiers of our planet. My job on the ship is to communicate the science that’s happening to students in Aotearoa and across the world. I help teachers to set up video calls to the ship, where I show them the scientific laboratories. I write articles and make classroom resources, and help plan cool videos to capture the imaginations of young people. I am also forming connections with scientists from all over the world, who I can get in touch with to advise and encourage the aspiring scientists in our classrooms in Aotearoa.

While I’m down south, I’ve been getting in touch with all my Teach First NZ whānau to make sure that students at the schools serving the lowest socio-economic communities are getting a chance to see the amazing Antarctic Science happening now. The networks I have been able to develop within the Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu community have helped me to spread the word to more schools across Aotearoa.  My favourite moments are hearing our scientists talk to students in the live video tours of the ship. I know from my work in schools that expectation plays a big role in how a student does in the classroom and in the rest of their life – students’ expectations of themselves, and the expectations of adults around them. What’s beautiful is that our scientists expect that every student they talk to loves science and will become an Antarctic researcher. I’m sure they will.


If you’d like to hear more, you follow Rosa’s journey here, or you can sign up to video-call The JODIES Resolution live at sea in the icy Antarctic waters with your Science class here. Rosa will be aboard for another month until she brings this valuable experience back into the classroom with her.