Get students out of the classroom and investigating the diversity of the natural world.
School grounds, parks and remnant bushland can be home to a variety of plants and animals suitable for students to study.
Biodiversity projects can be done on school grounds or beyond them.
Students can research local plants that give birds and animals food and shelter. They can make surveys of the school’s grounds. They can also explore concepts such as the web of life and the food chain.
Visit local national parks and reserves to study ecosystems and watch birds and animals in their natural homes.
Speak with experts in local Landcare or Bushcare groups or at your local council. They can tell you about plants and animals in your area and help align your project with other environmental initiatives.
Consider health and safety. Watch out for spiky plants or trees that may drop limbs. Avoid plants known to trigger allergies.
Link your project to the curriculum
Learn how you can link environmental projects with the curriculum in key learning areas for student outcomes at all stages.
Staff and students at Soldiers Point Public School created a ‘safe house’ for koalas within their school grounds by protecting existing koala trees and increasing habitat areas through replanting.
The school’s 2012 Eco Schools grant has helped students learn more about koalas by investigating the local koala population and the factors contributing to its decline. Students learned about the needs of koalas in the local community through a visit from the Hunter Koala Preservation Society and classroom research. With assistance from the Australian Koala Foundation and Port Stephens Council, they then set about identifying, mapping and labelling significant koala habitat trees within the school grounds. Overlaying recorded koala sightings on the map helped the students determine which areas of the school would benefit the most from new tree plantings.
Part of the project involved designing changes to the school playground to support the koala population. One tree in particular has provided a home to several koalas over the past 4 years. Students have established a passive playground in this part of the school where equipment such as balance beams, climbing poles and a sandpit have been constructed using natural materials. A wooden deck provides an area for sitting, reading or quiet games that will not disturb the koala in residence.
Students and their parents have learned what to do if they see a sick or injured koala, with two koalas being rescued from the playground by the Hunter Koala Preservation Society during the year. Students watched the rescues and followed the progress of the sick koalas through the society’s website.
Forty square metres of new habitat were planted with tube stock, and students were actively involved in the planting, mulching and monitoring of the new plants. Students have been communicating the outcomes of the project through an Edublog webpage that provides information about the local koala population and the school’s resident koalas. Students are rostered to survey the 3 main habitat areas in the school each morning and daily posts are added to the site.
The Koala Preservation Society in particular was paramount to our project. They are a wealth of practical information and on the front line when habitat loss causes problems with fauna in the local environment. Their presentation initiated great interest and care from all students and we will continue their presentations each year to keep the interest going.
Link your project to local activities by council or volunteer groups and use the learning outcomes to address a local environmental issue.
An unused and unloved space at the side of Coogee Public School has been transformed into an outdoor classroom, complete with native gardens, vegetable gardens, a frog pond, a native bee hive and garden art. The school’s 600 students now have a place to explore the role of biodiversity in a natural environment within the school grounds. With half of the school’s students living in apartments, the new play space also gives many students a rare chance to interact in a natural environment.
The project began with the children carrying out a biodiversity audit of the school grounds and helping to design the new classroom. A hard-working team of volunteers from the school community helped with site clearing, garden construction, and installation of the frog pond. Unique handmade signage was created by students in art workshops.
Staff and students received training from Australian Museum staff in best practice for design and management of outdoor classrooms. A team of students in the before-and-after school care program play a key role in maintaining the space.
When the children of Curl Curl North Public School were learning about biodiversity, it became clear that they saw very few animals around the school because the grounds were barely vegetated. Helped by a 2009 Eco Schools grant, the teachers, students, parents and school community worked hard to bring their school gardens to life and create outdoor learning areas.
Over 120 square metres of new gardens have been created to make the school grounds more attractive to native animals. Different kinds of garden beds were established to attract different types of animals. A frog pond has hosted its first tadpoles while another garden provides lizard habitat. Yet other gardens attract native birds. The children have even set up an enclosure for leaf insects, after visiting a similar exhibit at Taronga Zoo.
All the gardens were designed and planted by the children after researching what plant species were required to attract different animals. The children were also involved in the hands-on work of clearing, planting, mulching and watering of the new garden beds. Students have been given responsibility for maintaining and monitoring specific garden beds and reporting on their progress at school assemblies.
Local sponsors donated soil and landscaping materials which enabled the school to create more garden beds than initially planned.
As the children’s involvement increased, so too did the desire to involve more children in the planting and establishment of more garden beds. Having hands-on children helpers has had the biggest impact on their commitment to the project and its longevity.
Involve children in all aspects of designing and constructing new garden areas. This fosters a personal connection between the children and their school grounds and a sense of pride in their achievements.
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