The Natura education team, lead by our Senior Environmental Educator Lucy, had the great pleasure of spending two days (29th and 31st of July) with the students and staff of Pottsville Beach Public School on NSW’s far north coast. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Treescience, a local environmental consulting business, around 180 students from Years 3 and 4 had the opportunity to explore and learn more about the intricacies of the natural environment within and around their school grounds.
All of the grade 3 and 4 students at the school were involved in an hour-long lesson guided by the Natura Education team. this activity was conducted as an incursion that used the school’s grounds as an outdoor classroom. These lessons are specifically designed to address, compliment and support the Australian Curriculum.
Students in Year 3 explored one part of their school’s natural environment in order to explore the ‘Balance in Biodiversity’. The bushland area adjacent to the school became an outdoor learning space which was used to explore and investigate the diversity of living and non-living things found there. Students undertook two methods of mini-beast (insect) survey, looking at both the leaf litter and foliage as habitats for mini-beasts. It was decided that the leaf litter had a wider range of mini beasts and squeals of surprise and delight were heard as students discovered cockroaches, ants, spiders, slaters and many other creatures hiding here.
Students also visually assessed the type of bushland that made up their outdoor classroom as well as estimating the height of the tallest tree using their teacher as a unit of measure! For many of the students this was the first opportunity they had had to explore the outdoor environment using this sort of equipment while taking the time to record what they had found.
Another group explored the theme of ‘Compostasaurs’ by compared the breakdown of four different soil samples, three of which were produced naturally and the fourth being a store-bought potting mix. The students assessing the samples for smell, levels of decomposition, signs of life, water holding properties and cost, and seemed surprised at how poor the water holding properties of the potting mix were. The children decided that the compost and worm farm samples would be the cheapest and best soil conditioner to grow our food as it held large amounts of water and recycled waste scraps from the home or school environment. It was great to see that the children were all familiar with these processes as composting is already occurring within the school environment.
Many of the Year 4 students experienced sampling for creatures that live in our fresh waterways for the first time during our Wetlands and Waterways lesson. The pond within the school grounds was the outdoor classroom for these lessons and provided so much visual stimulus for the students throughout the session. Student saw first-hand how human activities can change and pollute the waterways and so directly impacting these aquatic creatures and their ability to complete their life cycle, which in turn affects food chains. It was great to see that the school already promotes a ‘nude food’ policy and is a school without bins, showing support and leadership in the area of waste management and reducing pollution in our environment.
Two great days were had by all and Natura Education were proud and excited to be a part of the school’s week-long program of environmental activities and presentations. We look forward to further opportunities to work with the students and staff of Pottsville Beach Public School to explore their local school environment and unearth more of its natural wonders.