Goanna ate my homework: YEAR 1-Science-Elaborate
Little J shares his bird feather collection with B-Boy. In school, Little J promises to find bush tucker to share with the class. The problem is that he doesn’t know how to find bush tucker. He enrols the help of Big Cuz and Nanna to teach him ‘proper way’ to identify and track animals. The group finds emu eggs but overnight a greedy goanna eats them. Nanna comes to the rescue by making spaghetti bolognaise for the class.
Elaborate - Science involves observing, asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events.
Theme - FAUNA
Re-watch Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 5 ‘Goanna ate my homework’, and concentrate on the contents of Little J’s collection box. Ask students to identify what he had collected, and what evidence he had: Magpie feather, Budgerigar feather, emu egg shells, Bush tomato/Lillypilly (bush tucker twig with red berries), emu feather.
Ask students to share what they already know about one of the five objects in the collection and about collecting specimens form the bush. List the offered information on a IWB/board.
View the video clip:
Discuss with students the role of the emu father and the difficulties of young emus surviving their birth.
Divide the class into five groups and have each group elect to find out information about one of the objects in Little J’s collection. Have groups use a KWHL chart to record:
- What they already know
- What they want to know
- How they will find out
- What they have learnt from finding out.
Access the following summary chart:
- KWHL, PDF, Eduweb, DET Victoria
Ask groups to share with the rest of the class what they researched and presented on their chart.
Explain to students that all the objects in Little J’s collection are from living things that are ‘native’ to Australia. Ask students to suggest definitions for what is ‘native’ to Australia and what is introduced or non-native to Australian environments. Develop a list of animals that may be non-native and invasive. Examples may include:
- goldfish, carp
- domestic rats/mice
- cane toads
- European wasps/bees
- domestic pigeons
- Indian myna birds
Ask students if they have seen the movie, Oddball, about a dog trained to guard penguins from foxes in Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia. If possible, screen the movie at school. Access information about the original environmental project on Middle Island, Warrnambool, Victoria:
- Based on a true story: Learning about the real Oddball tale
- Oddball and the Penguins
- Middle Islander Maremma project
As a class, discuss the problems that introduced or non-native species create in the Australian environment. Focus on how the introduced/alien species travelled to Australia, and why it was introduced. Read/view the books:
- Baker, J. (1995). The story of rosy dock. Milsons Point, NSW : Random House
- Australia Interactive books
- Kessing, K. (2015). Out of the spinifex. Alice Springs, NT : Kaye Kessing Productions
- Kessing, K. (2015). Across a great wide land. Alice Springs, NT : Kaye Kessing Productions
- Kessing, K. (2015). Into the bowels of the biggest city. Alice Springs, NT : Kaye Kessing Productions
- Marsden, J. & Tan, S. (2003). The rabbits. Vancouver, B.C : Simply Read Books
Divide the class into the same groups who did the native animals activity. Ask all groups whether they had identified the main predators of the Australian animals. Then, from among the list of identified predators of their researched Australian animal, have each group select one that is an introduced predator. Now, have the group develop another KWHL chart for the introduced predator of their Australian animal. Resources can be found at:
Invite each group to share their information with the class. Ask students to consider the protective strategies/controls that Australian wildlife agencies have introduced to protect the environment, such as the rabbit-proof/protective fence, myxomatotic virus, quota culling, genetic controls, etc.
Emphasise that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples practised sustainable hunting, which means only taking what is needed, for example, as Nanna advised, “only take a small number of emu eggs, and leave the others for the mother to hatch”.
Play ‘Australian garden detective’:
As a class, use a map of Australia to show where the native environments for their Australian animal. Using pin/label also enter the names of the predators and invasion of introduced/alien species.
If possible, invite a speaker such as a local council environmental officer, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander wildlife ranger, a CSIRO scientist or a RSPCA officer into the classroom to talk about introduced species in the local environment, and about projects that assist the protection of the native animals. Resources include:
- Rangers with traditional knowledge
- Indigenous Ecological Knowledge
- Bardi Jawi Rangers: caring for country
- War of the willows
- Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers
Ask each group to design a brochure, poster or Glogster to alert their parents or carers and the community to the problems of introduced species in the local area, as well as suggesting how everyone can assist with protecting local Australian habitat.