Sustaining Science School Education Program
4 November 2021
In this day and age, it’s pretty easy to spot when student engagement is low in your classroom. Glazed eyes, doodled-over papers or rumpled worksheets are telling signs of low engagement. With the increase in educational technology over the past year, it can be difficult to fuse together outside education in a way that promotes positive experiences and learning and meet the class interaction rules, expectations and school curriculum.
Little River’s Sustaining Science Education programs aims to meet the needs of both student and teacher by facilitating opportunities that encourage outdoor learning for key curriculum. During August 2021, students and Teacher Emma Livissianis, from Yeoval Central School joined Little River staff to assess the vegetation status of a newly planted Woodland on a local property.
This was no ordinary school trip. The students visited a rare Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) site that housed Yellow Box, White Box, Blakey’s Grassy Woodland community species. In an attempt to boost the presence of species within this EEC throughout the Catchment, the area was fenced off and revegetated in March 2021 with funding available through the Corridor Connectivity Project.
The fifteen students present were asked to “assess” the status of over 300 plants located in the area. Chairman, Don Bruce, gave a visual presentation outlining the structure of the plant including photosynthetic leaves, nodes, stem and roots and described the importance of removing top foliage if the base of the plant is still photosynthetic.
Students from years 7 – 10 practically examined each plant to assess plant health. If the plant was no longer photosynthetic, the students removed the plant and placed a new species known to inhabit the EEC in its place.
Practical learning is a great way for students to gain hands-on experience and learn through doing actions/ tasks themselves. This activity allowed students to examine each plant individually which sparked questions around the importance of water flow through the plant and the role of “Xylem” and “Phloem”.
In total, the students replanted approximately 20 EEC dominate tree species including Eucalyptus albens, Eucalyptus melliodora and Eucalyptus camaldulensis and more than 40 EEC understory species including Acacia spectabilis, Acacia implexa, Acacia deanei and Acacia paradoxa.
“A worthwhile and enjoyable experience for all of us, thank you!” – Emma Livissianis (Wellbeing Leader, Yeoval Central School).
Outcomes for students:
- Monitor and care for the health of the environment
- Increase awareness of Endangered Ecological Communities
- Look at ways individuals can help increase vegetation throughout the Little River Catchment
- Encourage team work and outdoor learning experiences
NSW school curriculum outcomes:
- Ethical understanding = exploring values, rights and responsibilities
- Personal and social capability = social awareness
- Curriculum connections = Outdoor learning
- Cross curriculum priority = sustainability
- Curriculum links = ACSU112, ACSSU116, ACSHE223, ACSHE129, ACSHE121, ACSIS125, ACSIS133, ASCHE135, ACSHE136, ACSIS139, ACSIS145, ACSIS148