I wish to share the amazing learning experience I had with Mount Scopus Memorial College year 5 students when I accompanied them on their walk along Gardiners Creek in a recent incursion. Their current unit of inquiry is into biodiversity and they are exploring what impacts are caused on the biodiversity of Gardiners Creek by humans.
We didn’t need to venture far into the reserve to discover some amazing wildlife like hover flies, wasps, ladybirds, wood ducks, millipedes, the ubiquitous noisy minors and magpies, but remarkably a boobook owl and an intriguing small hanging moss nest!
We pondered about why trees had fallen; which were wind blown (and what the evidence suggested about prevailing strong wind patterns); which had died before they fell (some dead grub infested trees remain standing) and why some trees were cut (by whom?) and repositioned in the garden beds (for what purpose?).
We saw the evidence of heavy human and dog foot traffic (Deakin Uni and local residents and dog walkers seemed to be the main users of the park). Soil compaction caused by ‘paths of desire’ is having significant affects on the grass and plants in garden beds but there are fences and bridges and attempts to remedy this. Dogs are allowed off leash and many venture right into the creek (right where ducks were spotted 10 minutes earlier).
We noted how stormwater drains feed right into the creek, and saw rubbish and debris in trees and banks a meter above water levels indicating recent rainwater levels. Where does rubbish end up downstream? We talked about the consequence of human action in Gardiners Ceek and how it could also affect the Yarra River confluence and then Port Phillip Bay and iMPs act on biodiversity there.
It was interesting to see natural human responses to nature art in the reserve as we came across some small rock cairns built amongst a swale drain of rocks (designed to catch sediment and rubbish before it drains into the creek). Immediately boys began stacking their own rocks and for some time were absorbed in artistic endeavour. Yet when one large rock was turned back, a student discovered a colony of ants and eggs and our attention turned to habitat and how moving the rocks had disturbed these animals – should we play with nature?
The students took back all of this information and evidence to discuss different perspectives on what they saw – the PYP programme lends itself to deeper inquiry learning and concepts such as perspective, causation, responsibility are prominent in this unit on biodiversity. I wonder where this inquiry will take them and what changes are made in response to our walk?