Written by: Marcel Bruyn, Strategic Learning
Sustainability is a cross-curriculum priority of the Australian Curriculum. Sustainability addresses the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life. The AC website states that: “Education for sustainability develops the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for people to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living.”
In Science: “… students appreciate that science provides the basis for decision-making in many areas of society and that these decisions can impact on the Earth system. They understand the importance of using science to predict possible effects of human and other activity and to develop management plans or alternative technologies that minimise these effects.”
Many Australians live in coastal areas and occupy catchments which supply waterways that empty into the ocean. So there is a direct link between healthy waterways and healthy marine environments, and for much of Queensland that includes coral reef environments.
The catchment and/or marine environments are an ideal foci for a school sustainability program. Here are links to excellent educational programs and resources to support the implementation of a sustainability program in your school:
Organisations and educational programs
- Reef Guardian Schools – Great Barrier Marine Park Authority. The program encourages schools to commit to the protection and conservation of the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. The program helps to protect the Reef by promoting their ideas, initiatives and activities to communities to encourage all people to “do their bit to look after it!”. It focuses on: Curriculum offerings; Management of Resources; On-the-ground projects in your school and community and Education of the community. “
- ReefED: online resources and activities from GBRMPA.
- Australian Marine Environment Protection Association: AUSMEPA provides FREE educational resources on this website to help teachers plan and undertake a unit of work about key marine environmental issues, including climate change and storm water pollution.
- Reef Check Australia: The Reef IQ Educational Program includes courses and workshops that allow students to undertake simulated coral reef surveys in the classroom.
- Marine Education Society of Australasia.
- Ocean Life Education ‘Brings the Sea to You’ with fun marine education programs including live marine animals designed to inspire students of all ages to appreciate and take responsibility for the marine ecosystem.
- The Global Learning Centre is a not-for-profit community organisation dedicated to supporting education for justice, peace and sustainability.
- Healthy Waterways: An NGO that provides information and resources on water education in South East Queensland including: information, resources and games.
- The Up a Dry Gully Schools Program challenges primary and secondary students to explore and understand how water must be safe, secure and sustainable for our future.
- CSIRO: CarbonKids is an educational program that combines the latest in climate science with education in sustainability.
- CSIRO Education, North Queensland: Eco-enigma – An environmental case study where the class becomes a scientific team preparing an environmental impact report. By measuring heavy metal levels in fish, analysing silt in a river etc, students find out who is responsible for the environmental health problems of Sunny Valley.
- Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities: Australian water education resources.
- Sea World (Gold Coast): Excursions and education programs.
- Reef HQ Aquarium (Townsville): Age-specific, innovative curriculum-centred programs include interactive activities and investigation challenges, stimulating inquiring minds to discover all they can about the Reef.
- Brisbane City Council Environment Centres: Downfall Creek Bushland Centre and Boondall Wetlands Environment.
- Education Queensland Environmental Education Centres.
- Exhibitions and school programs at the Queensland Museum & Sciencentre and Museum of Tropical Queensland.
Many local governments have resources and staff to support sustainability education. For example:
- Brisbane City Council, includes Brisbane City Council’s environmental and cultural learning programs and Green Schools.
- Redland City Council: “IndigiScapes helps teachers design units of work so their students can achieve learning outcomes from a variety of curriculum areas. We provide interactive and challenging activities that guide students through an appreciation and understanding of local conservation issues and how they can protect their planet in the future.”
- Gold Coast City Council: School Watersaver Education Program which encourages students to work towards a sustainable water future.
Queensland Museum Resources
The museum has a rich repository of authoritative information and resources, including online content, interactive learning objects, games and school loan kits.
- Biodiscovery and the Great Barrier Reef: Biodiscovery is the quest for bioactive chemicals from living organisms. Investigate some of the factors affecting the survival of reef organisms and how human activities and climate change are having an impact on the reef.
- Backyard Explorer: An invertebrate biodiversity audit resource kit that can support biohealth assessment component of a sustainability program.
- The museum provides loan kits that support object-based learning. For example: Marine Life: Explore a variety of marine life and how they interact with their environment and each other. Investigate interactions between living things and suitability for a marine habitat.