Detective work to help link rural and urban

29 June 2018 


School children have been working together in a DairyNZ education project to unlock similarities and differences between urban and rural life.

In the CLASS-ified Moostery Challenge, 150 rural and 150 urban schools were paired up and challenged to work out each other’s name and location, while getting to know more about each other. Each school carried out detective work to help them identify their mystery match. This is the third year the challenge has run.

DairyNZ Strategy and Investment Leader Dr Jenny Jago says the project is a great way to create empathy and real-world connections between rural and urban children. “It gives young people an opportunity to better understand each other’s lifestyle and perspectives. It’s also a fun way for children to learn.”

In the challenge, the children in Years 4 to 8 (ages 8 to 12) first take part in a photographic scavenger hunt where they take 10 photos of specified subjects. This includes how they get to school, games they play at lunchtime and what they wear on their feet at the end of the day. The photos are uploaded to a website where they can see how their lives compare with others up and down New Zealand.

In the second part of the challenge, each school connects with their mystery classroom via a video chat such as Skype or Zoom and asks questions to identify the other school. Each person is assigned a role such as ambassador (class spokesperson), detectives who ask the questions and responders who use Google Maps to pinpoint the other school’s location based on the answers. Answers can only be yes or no. The challenge is to identify each other’s island, region, city or town and school. The first school to identify all four wins. Dr Jago says the challenge involves planning, investigating key concepts of geography and working together. “It gives an insight into another way of life in a dynamic and personal way.”

Auckland’s Mission Heights Primary School took part in the challenge last year, paired with rural Wairere School near Matamata. Mission Heights Primary School teacher Monique Browne says her class loved the challenge and learned a lot including questioning and map-reading skills. Mrs Browne says: “The collaboration was great and the students in each class had to work as a team. My class found it fascinating because we’re a large city school with about 700 students and we were talking to a rural school with fewer than 50 students. In terms of differences, the rural school had a larger range of ages in their class than ours and there were some differences in lifestyle. But kids are kids everywhere so there was a lot in common as well.”

Wairere School teacher Karen Catchpole says her students enjoyed competing against another school to see who would be the first to find out where the other class was from. The students were amazed at the size of the other school and what it looked like compared to their school, she says. Information for teachers on how to run the challenge is available on the School Kit website at


Dr Jenny Jago


What is DairyNZ’s in-school education programme? DairyNZ and School Kit work together to develop and deliver learning resources that explore different curriculum subjects through a dairying lens. The aim is to improve children’s understanding of dairy farming and spark their interest in dairying as a career option. To find out more visit


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