In Science, Year 7 students are studying a unit of Biology. For this past month, they have been learning about differences within and between groups of organisms, and how classification helps organise this diversity, with a focus on the five-kingdom classification. Students have undertaken inquiry and practical tasks to progress and apply their understandings, applications and skills, including the construction of dichotomous keys, plant taxonomy and animal classification exercises and web-quests based on their field excursions to the Maranoa Botanic Gardens and the Werribee Open Range Zoo.
Both Year 7 learning groups caught the tram to the Maranoa Botanic Gardens (Balwyn) on the mornings of Thursday 11 May and Friday 12 May. Once there, they followed paths through the gardens, discovering and exploring a collection of around four thousand native plant species, categorised into major vegetation groups and planted in environment zones, including rainforest, arboretum main lawn, cottage garden, indigenous display, temperate woodland, arid, and sclerophyll forest. Students also went on a silent ‘earth walk’ through the grasslands and indigenous flora display at the adjacent Beckett Park. One group of students was fortunate to find the entrance to the stone observation tower unlocked by the City of Boroondara. A violinist was performing works by Dvořák inside the base of the tower. The beautiful music could be heard across Beckett Park whilst the students were enjoying their morning tea in the extensive playground, and the nearby maze of mature tea trees with their wizened trunks and foliage that provide a natural playing space. When the students climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, the music floated hauntingly in the space. It was a superb, exciting and joyful experience.
All the Year 7 students travelled together by hired coach to the Werribee Open Range Zoo on Monday 22 May 2023. A highlight was the safari bus tour where students had close encounters with zebras, giraffes, antelope and rhinoceros, to name a few, whilst travelling in a vehicle open to the environment. Students also commented positively about the zoo educator session on ‘Eat or Be Eaten’ where they learnt how to identify omnivores, herbivores and carnivores by their skull, jaw and teeth types, and created a model food web from unknown animal skull specimens, a sample of grass, and a random soft, colourful plastic insect. They also enjoyed close-up viewing of a cheetah, monkeys, lions, a gorilla, hippopotamuses, and meerkats, to name a few.
In their Science learning environments at school, the students completed a highly successful classification learning task where they created a dichotomous key for many different kinds of pasta, including small and large, plain and wholemeal, and spiral, shell and tubular shapes!