On Tuesday we had a visit from Elke at the CSIRO. Her program was all about Biodiversity – the great variety of living things on earth, how they are classified and why some are threatened with extinction. This image shows one of our students using a dichotomous key to identify Simpson’s characters. Other activities included laser monitoring of landscape temperature, temperature in a carbon-dioxide enhanced atmosphere, pH testing of water, soil texture, soil moisture and microscopic monitoring of species.
In Year 6/7 Science we will be learning about the characteristics of living organisms and the classification of animals. I have used Bubbl.us to create a dichotomous key as an example for students. They will use the same tool to create their own key to identify items of their choice – for example flavours of icecream or drinks, different balls or sporting equipment. Here is an example of a key to identify Fungi.
Last week, Year 11 Biology students visited the Melbourne Zoo and the Botanincal Gardens, where we able to observe many adaptations of plants and animals. Until the end of term in year 7 and 8 Science we will be learning about biodiversity and ecological relationships. These relationships (predator/prey, parasite/host, symbioses, mutualistic collaboration, commensalism) have evolved over millions of years. Why is it important to understand the delicate balance of life?
Draw up a table with three columns. In the first column write the title “Biological Products” – including food, medicines and building materials. In the second column, write “Ecosystem Services”, including pollinators, erosion prevention, water filters etc. and the third column for “Social Benefits” – entertainment, aesthetics. Brainstorm all the ways in which humans benefit from biodiversity – the great variety of living organisms on earth. Of course, all living organisms have the right to exist, free from exploitation by humans. But this is a good way to reach the understanding that our way of life is dependent on the health of planet.
After not having much luck with image searches at school (Google image and Flickr are blocked), I have found a very useful source of images, videos and information about plants and animals. ARKive is a unique collection of thousands of videos, images and fact files illustrating the world’s species. You can explore and search ARKive’s continually expanding multi-media collection via the
navigation bar at the top of every page.
Hawkesdale P12 College was nominated in Sustainability Victoria’s ResourceSmart Awards this year, for the work students have done during the year to promote biodiversity within and beyond the school. Many of the primary classes have contributed to the vegetable and herb gardens, as well as learning about the importance of water to living things. Year 7 students designed and constructed a “Bush Food, Fibre and Medicine” garden using indigenous species valued by koorie tribes. Year 7 students also particiapted in the Waterwatch program, which gave them the opportunity to identify aquatic macro-invertebrates and complete habitat surveys. Year 9 students repotted woolly tea-tree seedlings for the Orange Bellied Parrot Recovery Program and planted over 1,500 trees, shrubs and grasses at two locations (along the Port Fairy Rail Trail and along a creek at Greenills, Minhamite). Year 11/12 students completed quadrat studies at the Hawkesdale Racecourse Reserve and monitored nesting boxes that have been installed to prevent infestation by feral species.
Over 70 school were nominated for the awards and we were succesful in becoming finalists in the Biodiversity section, although we did not win the overall prize. Students have enjoyed the ‘hands-on’ nature of the program and become aware that theuy can make a difference in their ‘own patch’. I travelled to Melbourne with eight students who were very excited to be part of the awards ceremony and experience a day in the city. We took the opportunity to visit the Melbourne Aquarium, which has a diverse range of exhibits from the giant Murray cod and deep sea crabs, to tiny fluorescent jellyfish and colourful anenome fish. Thanks to Firestarter Ltd and other sponsors who supported the event, which was a magnificent show case of the sustainability work being undertaken in schools around Victoria.
An international team of marine scientists believe that tectonic plate collisions were responsible for bursts of marine biodiversity across the planet. “There have been at least three marine biodiversity hotspots during the past 50 million years,” say a team led by researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville. Tectonic plate collisions formed shallow, warm seas and many bays and islands, which allowed biodiversity to flourish in different areas at diferent tiimes. Read more on the ABC Science on-line website.
Today we welcomed a group of international visitors to Hawkesdale College – guest speakers from India, America and Ecuador. Mela is a sanskrit word for large gathering, festival or celebration. These visitors have come to Hamilton to participate in an international, intercultural event; and we had the opportunity to hear international community activists, researchers, scholars and practitioners talking about the sustainability of local communities across the world. Their presentastions were about the practical local responses to food production, climate change and a sustainable future.
“Carlos Zorrilla is the founder and executive director of DECOIN – a grassroots non-government organisation dedicated to the conservation of the cloud forests of the Intag region of northern Ecuador. Carlos is a 30 year resident of the region, and has dedicated his life to the pursuit of ecologically sustainable human inhabitation of one of planet earth’s most important biological niches. He is an active promoter of critical water-shed projects, organic crops, a shade-grown coffee cooperative, eco-tourism, and economies built around local production and consumption. Carlos has lectured at universities in Japan, Canada and the United States. He has presented before the OECD in Paris on corporate ethics, and is recognized as one of the world’s leading ecologists.” Carlos showed a powerful presentation about the local community response to a copper mine in Ecuador. You can help Carlos here.
Robin Nicholas, a Health and Safety expert, worked in the computer room with the 9/10 ICT class. He has produced video and print media for a diverse range of employees in different industries. He explained to students how to draw together ideas for stories about a town or farm and how to produce a profile of themselves.
“Venkatesan Kaviyarasan (Kavi) is a mushroom expert, a professor of mycology from Madras University, Chennai, South India. Kavi spends much of his life, when he is not teaching, identifying and protecting fungi species for biodiversity and sustainabilityn of fragile environments. He works with local communities in the Tamil Nadu area, and particularly with a tribal community whose livelihood has been impacted by large-scale resource extractions.” Kavi spoke about his relatives and friends, people who live in a small group of villages that have been affected by deforestation and mining.
“Thangavelu Vasantha Kumaran (TV) is a Professor of geography and head of the Geography Department at Madras University, Chennai, South India. TV has done substantial research and community work, particularly in areas of traditional ecological knowledge systems, sustainable development and community development planning in South India. He has also conducted several workshops and training programs on issues relating to the fields of medical geography, natural resource management, geographical information systems and their applications in water resource analysis and management; particularly irrigation and irrigation management, and community development planning.” TV spoke about how the village temple is the centre of the community in India, where religous ceremonies are frequent and colourful. Town planning documents over 3,000 years old have dictated the pivotal importance of the temple.