Students around the country are being inspired by learning about the life and work of Sir Edmund Hillary through a new teaching resource.
Sir Edmund Hillary first became interested in climbing at 16, when he took part in a school trip to Mt Ruapehu. Today, students have the opportunity to be similarly inspired by learning about his Mt Everest climb and subsequent charity work.
Stratford Primary School teacher Angela Hampton has always admired Sir Ed and spent time trekking and volunteering in Nepal. She was one of the teachers involved in developing a new education pack to help teachers and students celebrate the 65th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s Everest ascent. This year also marks the upcoming centenary of Sir Ed’s birth.
“What I learned about Sir Ed when I was at school really opened my eyes to what was possible for all of us. His example showed me I could achieve anything I wanted if I challenged myself. Sir Ed achieved great fame through his adventures, but he didn’t use his fame for personal glory, instead he used it to help others. That’s such an important story for our young Kiwis to hear and feel inspired to follow,” Angela says.
“This year for the first term our focus was on leadership, so our key question is ‘how can we lead the change we want to see in the world?’. Therefore, this education pack fits right into that because the students can look at Sir Ed’s example … at the end of it they can create their own legacy and be leaders in some way as well.”
Improved literacy skills
The pack consists of 10 topics, each with a series of suggested activities and teacher/student support materials.
“Each topic has a variety of activity ideas from across the curriculum. There are stories, photos and activities that encourage students to explore the Himalayas and learn about the people who live there.
“The resource includes new and exciting ways to enhance students’ learning with technology, plus comprehensive background notes and information,” she says.
As well as making connections between Nepal and New Zealand, Angela’s students are improving their literacy through different writing activities.
“For example, you’ve got one writing example, ‘If you became famous overnight how would it feel? What would you do next?’. It was quite surprising for some of the students because Sir Ed became famous and he didn’t necessarily take all the glory.”
The class has used Google My Maps to create a custom map to help with their research, such as looking at how mountainous Nepal is and comparing the Nepalese and New Zealand landscapes and maunga.
As their learning is stored in My Maps, students can also travel through to see their learning journey.
“We had to cover a lot of mapping information because the students didn’t know how to identify features on the map, so you’ve got that learning that comes in from actually setting it up as part of the project.”
One particular topic looked at how Sir Ed reached the summit of Mt Everest and was focused on teamwork. It included activities which enabled students to practise their own teamwork skills.
Year 7 and 8 students taste their freshly made vegetable momos.
Adaptable to suit students
When helping to develop the resource, Angela thought about what would help her as a teacher. She finds resources most effective when they can be adapted to suit the needs of her students and when there are clear themes and curriculum links.
“There’s a certain theme in each topic … I look at the activities and I pick what suits my students. I’m able to then make that match certain parts of the curriculum, whether it’s reading, it might be reading the picture book First to the Top for students to learn how to identify facts. What I love about this resource is that there are a variety of options for teachers to make it suit their students,” she says.
“At the same time, I’m seeing the students’ curiosity. Personally, it’s almost been shocking how they just have so many questions, they’re so fascinated and as they learn more about Nepal, they’re really curious about different parts, like the food.
Lani and Olivia cook the vegetable filling for their momo
“They’re showing me that they’ve got that interest there… so I’m pretty happy at the moment.”
The final topic in the pack is the School Summit Challenge, where the class will be required to brainstorm and execute a project designed to showcase what they have learned, while also making a positive contribution to the wider community.
“When we get to that point we’ll brainstorm the way that they’ll make a difference in our community and in a way that will challenge them as well. We are an Enviroschool so there’ll be a link there with our summit challenge.
“It ends with the theme of legacy: What is a legacy?” Angela says.
“The kids get an opportunity to look at how can we create a legacy with the summit challenge to really challenge themselves, just like Sir Ed did, to make a difference to others. They go through this whole journey of how Sir Ed made a difference in many different ways and then they get to do it themselves, which I think is really solidifying their learning.”
Te Mata school also used the resources and took part in the Summit Challenge – students challenged themselves to read 8,848 pages in teams of eight, as 8,848 metres is the height of Mount Everest. The students received sponsorship from friends and family to support their efforts and raised over $1,900, which they donated to schools in the Everest region.
The free Sir Edmund Hillary education pack has been developed by the Himalayan Trust. The activities and resource materials in the pack have been designed to support the Social Sciences learning area of The New Zealand Curriculum.