Year 11 Biology – Learning Beyond the Classroom
August 18, 2023
Students embarked on an educational journey to Wooglemai Environmental Education Centre, located on the eastern fringes of Nattai National Park, a part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage-listed area. The day commenced with theory work in an unusual yet captivating classroom consisting of taxidermied creatures from all over the world. This session laid the foundation for the day’s activities, familiarising students with the processes of sampling techniques and the equipment that is used. The acquired knowledge was put into action as students engaged in both quadrat and transect sampling amidst our Eastern Australian Eucalypt Forests.
Dividing into teams within prepared quadrats, students were introduced to tools to measure abiotic factors such as temperature, slope, humidity, light and soil pH. After a lunch break, students delved into the final sampling activity: transect sampling. This method allowed them to explore the interplay between altitude and plant species density. Progressing downslope, each student carefully tallied a designated plant species recording its prevalence for each 50-metre interval.
At the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan, students deepened their classroom knowledge and investigated some practical applications of their current topic of biological diversity in three informative and engaging sessions. In the first session, students engaged with live animals and learnt about their unique adaptations and the selection pressures that founded them; the class favourite was the adorable Chaco Tortoise, seized by border control, called “The Duke.”
In the second session, they investigated fossils, skeletons and DNA data to learn how comparative anatomy and genetics provide support for the Theory of Evolution. In the third session, students took a scenic walk on the grounds to observe the site’s Eucalypt specimens and learnt about the role of divergent evolution in biological diversity, and also visited the Garden’s Stolen Generation Memorial.
Both excursions provided a fun and interactive way for students to apply their learning, and practice valuable skills.