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.

All Stuffed Up!

No, this is not a blog post about nasal congestion. It’s about the amazing science and artistry of taxidermy. Taxidermy is the science of preparing and mounting dead animals for display and research.

On Wednesdays, a wonderful group of volunteers comes to Queensland Museum South Bank to help prepare specimens as study skins for the research collection. This group is led by Heather Janetzki, our Collections Manager for mammals and birds.

Ali Douglas and Todd Knight from our exhibition construction team produce specimen mounts for display. Firstly the animal is skinned. Preserving chemicals may be applied to the skin or the skin tanned. It’s then mounted on a wooden or wire manikin, or a polyurethane foam animal mould is used. Glass eyes for these mounts are then added. The final result is a very life-like preserved specimen of the original animal.

Some taxidermy specimens are available to borrow from Queensland Museum Loans. See the Biodiversity section in the downloadable catalogue.

More information about taxidermy can be found in the Behind the Scenes section of the Queensland Museum website.

New Fossil and Marine Science Exhibitions

Ammonite

A small two case exhibit opened on Friday 27th May called ‘100 years of fossils’ which is located near the entrance of the Queensland Museum South Bank (QMSB) on Level 2. The display marks the 100 year anniversary of the collection of the first fossil into the Museum’s collection. The display was compiled by the Geosciences team and includes fossils similar to this photo of an ammonite from the main collection which is held at Hendra. Teachers who are becoming familiar with the requirements of the new Australian Curriculum for science may know that the ‘theory of evolution by natural selection’ will be taught in Year 10.

Another new exhibition on Level 2 is called ‘Coral Reef Biodiversity’ and will appeal to teachers (and parents) of pupils in Year 6 who are studying Biological Sciences.  Students will be expected to know that “the growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment”. This photographic exhibition demonstrates in brilliant colour the diversity and complexity of a wide range of unique marine animals. The marine organisms below are a wonderful example of the biodiversity found on coral reefs, captured in their full glory.

Coral reefs are known as ‘canaries of the sea’ as they are highly susceptible to changes in their environment. Bleaching episodes are not uncommon. The latest research indicates that coral reefs contain up to 50% of the world’s biodiversity.  As such they are extremely important for marine scientists to understand and for humanity to conserve.

Our AIPP award winning museum professional photographer, Gary Cranitch, took the marine photographs on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia and on Lizard and Heron Islands which are adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. This was part of a 10 year CReefs project in collaboration with The Institute of Marine Science.

The Queensland Museum has over 300,000 images in its collection and owns the Intellectual Property rights.  However, many international publications have received permission to use these marine photographs which can also be purchased on-line by individuals.

File Clam
Soft Corals