Ideas & Activities
Biodiversity is in real trouble world-wide and Australia is no exception. As we draw closer to the end of the Biodiversity Decade of Action 2010 - 2020 the problems are unfortunately still worsening. As people become more alienated from nature it makes it more likely that the natural systems in our world will be neglected and human impacts will make more changes to the biodiversity and the underlying processes in our world, processes which are not sustainable today and getting worse. UNESCO
Our Biodiversity Schools initiative, and its core element the Biodiversity Schools Database are designed to help address the biodiversity crisis issue by focusing students’ attention on the natural elements of the world they live in and to build awareness of biodiversity. The initiative focuses on key strategies that lead to attitude change and foster a deep appreciation and understanding of the natural world.
Sir David Attenborough has called for a radical new approach to conservation, urging people to "use all spaces from gardens to roadside verges to help wildlife". School grounds are a great place to start. Think of the amount of time they are relatively quiet and child-free. Barring lunch and recess, and drop-off and pick-up times our school grounds are peaceful places, and then of course for twelve weeks of the year everyone is off on holidays as well. Many of our species are adapting well to humans and are happy living and breeding in school grounds, and of course lots of our wildlife are crepuscular or nocturnal and so are snuggled up asleep during school times.
'Nature deficit disorder' is a reality but technology is a part of the solution. For students technology is a significant and positive part of life, it is an amplifier that can help you focus and think. Contrast wandering around the school just looking compared to trying to get a photograph of a bird or a lizard. The level of focus is very different!
The Biodiversity Schools Database is designed to help schools to harness the power of nature education and some technology strategies in their learning processes while implementing the Sustainability Cross-Curriculum priority. The Melbourne Declaration outlined a major strategy to address Sustainability through Education and this system provides an innovative way to achieve that. Wagaman Primary School in Darwin has been piloting the process with great success.
The Biodiversity Schools project is designed to help schools address the Sustainability Cross-curriculum priority, especially the Biodiversity aspects including curriculum integration and other aspects of Sustainability.
The major foci of the project are to;
- provide students with a fun motivating and empowering learning space,
- provide teachers a mechanism for developing activities to facilitate building knowledge and shaping attitudes about biodiversity,
- provide a mechanism to support a range of learning around the sustainability overarching idea in the National curriculum,
- provide a powerful mechanism for building a shared knowledge system and develop the broad range of skills and understanding about knowledge that goes into such a process,
- provide access for students to sophisticated technology in a way that enables students to construct online resources and develop awareness of the technology processes of building a shared online knowledge system,
- support teachers with information about Wet –Dry tropical ecosystems and biodiversity, and
- technology integration.
One of the important elements for technology is for kids not to be just passive consumers of information from the internet but to be active publishers so they get to understand the process and put online information into a more realistic perspective.