A LA LA! – Atlas of Living Australia Live At Last

Atlas of Living Australia Live At Last!

The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) was launched in Brisbane on the 20th May. At a special ceremony held at Queensland Museum (QM), Dr John Hooper (Head of Biodiversity and Geosciences at Queensland Museum) spoke about the collaboration of museums, herbaria, universities and other government collections in producing the ALA.

John Hooper at ALA launch.

The ALA is an online encyclopaedia of all living things in Australia. At present the website holds 23 million distribution records for Australia’s fauna and flora, with over 300 layers for mapping and analysis. It also contains images (under a Creative Commons Attribution licence), maps, identification tools, reference species lists, literature, and databases on biological collections. Here are some images showing diverse molluscs from QM’s collection as well as some colourful sponges.

Although the ALA was only recently ‘switched on’, it is still a work in progress.

The ALA allows us to build and maintain biological collections, assists with research, and aids communication.

You can access the ALA at this link.

To learn more about the biodiversity on the Great Barrier Reef and some factors that are having an impact on this biodiversity, visit the online learning resource Biodiscovery and the Great Barrier Reef. There are lots of teacher notes and student worksheets linked to the new Australian Science Curriculum in this resource.

To learn more about the areas of John’s research, visit his biography page, Dr. John Hooper.

The Pursuit of Parasites

Dr. Rob Adlard is a parasitologist working at Queensland Museum.

In search of flesh-eating parasites

Recently Rob has been on a quest of biodiscovery to uncover some of the ‘hidden diversity’ on coral reefs with an emphasis on fish parasites. Rob and his team have uncovered many species of myxosporean parasites, some of which are Kudoa spp., and these infect our reef fish. Here is an image of Rob, Dr Terry Miller, and PhD student Holly Heiniger in the waters off Lizard Island. They are collecting small cardinal fish using localised sprays of an anaesthetic while underwater.

Inquiry Centre Challenge

Sometimes you may be asked to Find a Fossil by hunting through selections of pointed shells, mussels, round shells and other fossils in a collection.

Challenges are changing all the time so pop in to our Inquiry Centre on Level 3 and take up the challenge!

Some activity sheets that are based on the Australian Science Curriculum and involve a visit to the Inquiry Centre at Queensland Museum South Bank are: Bird Beaks and Feet; and Observation and Classification Skills. These can be found in the Learning Resources section of our website.

The answers to the above puzzle are:

1. Pig (Skull);  2. Dugong (bottom jaw bone);  3. Cow (Bottom Jaw);  4. Turtle;  5. Horse (bottom Jaw);  6. Turtle; 7. Dugong (Skull).

Backyard Explorer comes to Chillagoe

North Queensland event

Queensland Museum scientists conducted innovative workshops in Chillagoe over 3 days in May 2011 dedicated to assessing local biodiversity and the effect of human impact using data from insect trapping. The workshop was funded with assistance from the Science Connections Program within the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

Hand net

The Queensland Museum Backyard Explorer workshops started with a free meeting with local Traditional Owners held at Chillagoe Eco Lodge Saturday, 28th May. The purpose of the meeting was to engage with the traditional owners prior to the main event on Sunday. Gifts from the Traditional Owners of Stradbroke Island were presented to the Indigenous Elders.

Participants from teachers to property owners, interested community members, environmentalists were invited to attend a program that encouraged the region to become more involved in science. Backyard Explorer showed community groups how to complete a survey of their property, work site, even backyard, incorporating scientific examination of habitat, vegetation and wildlife using the techniques we use in our research including identifying any insect finds and interpreting the bio-health of their area.

Following the full day workshop on Sunday the QM team, presented shorter workshops to Chillagoe State School students and teachers. This was particularly timely as the school is currently forming a School Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) as part of the Earth Smart Science initiative. The school is planning an Indigenous Bush Foods garden that will partner with the local indigenous community as well as the Queensland Museum.

The SCOPE funded community and school events conducted in the North achieved the objective of promoting and developing school and community links among all partners involved: Earth Smart Science (Facilitator), Science Spark (Primary Science Facilitator), Schools, Community members (e.g. Traditional Owners), local land care groups (e.g. Northern Gulf Resource Management Group) and the Queensland Museum.

Additional photographs and resources from Backyard Explorer community sessions held earlier this year can be accessed from the Queensland Museum Facebook page.

Fantastic Phasmids

The term ‘phasmids’ (pronounced fas-mids), is just another name for the group of insects we commonly call stick insects. These amazing creatures are so well-camouflaged that they are very difficult to see amongst foliage.

The Goliath Stick insect (Eurycnema goliath) is one of Australia’s largest phasmids. It is green with yellow patches on the head, thorax and legs. As well as its wonderful camouflage, these insects have some behavioural adaptations that reduce their risk of being chomped by ever-watchful birds. The insects stay motionless and put their front legs in front of their head to make themselves look more like part of the plant. They usually feed at night and during the day they hang motionless on plants. Even when they do move, they simulate moving leaves as they sway in the wind. When attacked, they spread their wings, displaying the bright red colour underneath, and splay their rear legs apart revealing black eye-like spots at the bases. They also kick out their spiny legs and loudly rustle their wings. These behaviours frighten off predators and work as good defence mechanisms.

Live stick insects are commonly displayed in the Inquiry Centre on Level 3 at Queensland Museum South Bank. Here is one that stands out under flash photography.

Learning about animal adaptations is an engaging activity. A new resource has just been uploaded onto the Queensland Museum website. The content and activities are matched with the Australian Curriculum. It is called ‘Adaptations Teaching Unit’ and is found in the Learning Resources section of the website.

Museum Learning Resources and the Australian Science Curriculum

Biodiscovery booklet

Over recent years, teachers-in-residence at the Queensland Museum have developed many learning resources for teachers and students. The latest support materials have been developed to help with the implementation of the new Australian Science Curriculum.

A list of these resources is provided in the PDF document below.

Summaries of QM online resources that complement QM Loans kits can be found on the catalogue page of QM Loans. These resources have been grouped into the categories of:

  • Biodiversity
  • Geosciences
  • Cultures and Histories
  • Science and Technology

These summary documents should help teachers locate educational support material. They should assist teachers of science with implementing the Australian Curriculum in schools and complement the development of new curriculum materials from Education Queensland.

Behind the Scenes – Queensland’s First TV broadcast

When was the first TV image broadcast in Queensland?

If you thought 1956 or 1959, you’d be wrong.  The first TV broadcast was made in 1934 by Thomas Elliott, from the Windmill Tower on Wickham Terrace using the machine featured in this article. I discovered this fascinating piece of technology carefully stored and cared for by Museum curators, in the storage area of the Queensland Museum.

This is a component of home made equipment used to send the first television signals in Queensland, and possibly Australia (Image: Copyright Queensland Museum 2011)

Over a period of months, Thomas built a television transmitter reportedly using materials including cotton reels, aluminium discs and Meccano set parts. A receiving set owned by advertising man Alan Campbell (later co-founder of Channel 9 Queensland and patron of the South-East Queensland Amateur Television Group) included equally diverse materials, such as pieces of aluminium, copper and brass. It had a screen 11cm wide.

The first transmission was made on 10 April 1934 from the observatory to Campbell’s home at Wilston Heights. The first image seen was of actress Janet Gaynor. 4CM was given a television broadcasting license the same year, 1934 and continued to broadcast until all licenses were withdrawn following the outbreak of war in 1939. The group did not resume after the war, but Elliott declared that Australia could have introduced television in the 1930s but for the War.

This object provides a fascinating insight into how science and technology have changed over the last 100 years.  For more ideas and resources to teach science and technology in the classroom try investigating  QM Loans. Loans kits available to borrow include Telecommunications, Early Queensland Living and Australian Inventions.