Thursday, July 12, 2007

Podcasting at the Alice Springs Desert Park

An activity designed with Middle Years students in mind.

Using the current audioguide as an example, and their knowledge of the desert and the Alice Springs Desert Park, students create an alternative audioguide designed to appeal to a teenage audience.

Download instructions for how to do this - it is much simpler than you might think.

High quality and appropriate podcasts will be made available on the Desert Park website, so they will become available for use by students visiting from interstate as well as local people.

Tina Sullivan (the new MY TaLE for ASHS and ANZAC) and myself are available to support one class from ASHS and one from ANZAC with this project during semester 2 of this year. Other schools interested are also invited to contact me.

This project also has great potential for oral language learning activities and bush schools are encouraged to contact me. Podcasts in indigenous languages would also be welcomed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Teaching English for ESL students at ASDP

A series of worksheets for students with English as a Second Language (ESL) have been developed in conjunction with the ESL and ILSS (Indigenous Language Speaking Students) Project Officers.

A visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park is an ideal language learning opportunity for students from central Australian communities as they are very familiar with the context.

There are six worksheets available, 2 levels for each of the three habitats. There are also extensive teacher notes supporting both language teaching and environmental education outcomes. All documents can be downloaded here.

Resources You Can Borrow from the Project Officer

I have a huge collection of resouces that I can loan out to schools. These include:
  • Microscopes
  • Mangifying glasses
  • Binoculars
  • FlexiCam
  • Animal Scats
  • Snake skins
  • Seed collections
  • Bird feathers
  • Insects
  • Clipboards
  • Bumbags
  • Posters
  • Petri dishes, pipettes, measuring cylinders etc for studying water holes and other basic science activities
  • Hand puppets of local animals
  • All you need to do the Rock Around the Park activities
  • Reference books, activity books and children's books on animals, plants, and other aspects of environmental education for sustainability and science
  • Wooden Kay Kessing cut outs of the animals and plants of each Desert Park habitat for use in your classroom or for stage sets etc.
  • The Alice Springs Desert Park also has an Insects in Schools program through which we can provide you with local stick insects for study in your classroom. A unit of work and care instructions can be found on ExploreNT. Log in with your latis username and password and type 'using stick insects in the classroom' into the search terms.

NT teachers wishing to borrow any of these items please call me on 8951 8718, or email me on

The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative

The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) is a partnership of the Australian Government, the States and Territories that seeks to support schools and their communities to become more sustainable. Sustainability in this context includes social, economic and environmental sustainability, which you may have heard referred to as the Triple Bottom Line. Participating schools adopt a whole of school approach which includes behaviours and governance as well as curriculum aspects, they also work closely with their communities.

Practices being adopted in schools vary depending on the location, population and needs of the communities involved. We currently have 3 Central Australian Schools involved with AuSSI NT: Laramba School, The Alice Springs Steiner School and Bradshaw Primary School.

The e-space course for AuSSI NT is a public course that all NT teachers can access. Just login with your latis username and password and look for Sustainable Schools under the heading Public Study Groups on the bottom left of your screen (if you don't have a latis username and password contact Jenny Buckworth on 8999 3539). There are many resources housed on this site and all schools are encouraged to access and use them.

If you would like to know more about AuSSI NT please contact the project officer on 8951 9718 or e-mail at Top End schools that are interested may contact Louise Fogg, Environmental Education for Sustainability Project Officer for the Top End, on 8999 3712 or e-mail

Using the Alice Springs Desert Park as an Educational Resource

The Alice Springs Desert Park is a habitat based nature park. Three desert habitats are represented in their entirety - Desert Rivers, Sand Country and Woodland.

The plants and animals are shown as part of the habitats in which they are usually found. Stories of how people have lived and continue to live as part of these ecosystems are illustrated. The roles of fire and water are presented. The overall focus is on how both living and non-living components of these habitats are linked in complex webs of interdependence.

Major Features:
• Exhibition Centre with displays and a film introducing life in the desert
• Three arid zone habitats:- Desert Rivers, Sand Country, Woodland
• Aviaries in every habitat
• Many species of desert plants with labels explaining aboriginal use
• Nocturnal House including threatened species of the arid zone
• Walk through kangaroo and emu exhibit
• Nature Theatre featuring birds of prey
• Guided walks and talks on topics ranging from bush tucker to nocturnal life

A visit to the Desert Park will give students:
• An understanding that the country around them is alive, exciting and dynamic
• An awareness of the complexity of the habitats they encounter
• Cross-cultural awareness and appreciation
• An appreciation that the desert is an enjoyable place to visit and worth protecting

Getting started with planning your visit:
Download the booklet Using the Alice Springs Desert Park as an Educational Resource
For more detailed information on the features of each habitat download Desert Rivers, Sand Country and Woodland.

Entry for all NT School Groups is FREE, providing students are adequately supervised and advanced booking has been received. Click here to download booking forms and the code of conduct

NT teachers may also use the services of the NT DEET Project Officer to assist them with planning their visit and units of work in line with the Northern Territory Curriculum Framework . You can contact the Project Officer by calling 8951 8718 or by e-mailing

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

National Science Week 2007

National Science Week is in week 5 of term 3 (18th-25th August). This years theme for schools is Antarctic Science which has some obvious links with the current topical issue of climate change. You might like to build this into your school curriculum for the term.

The Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) will send a teacher resource pack to your school (usually addressed to the Principal), look out for it arriving soon. If you want your own copy you can order one through the website.

Some Ideas for NT Teachers can be downloaded using this link.

You may also like to visit National Science Week website for more ideas.

The Alice Springs Desert Park will be hosting Scinema and Starry Night on Saturday 11th August.

Check back here for more National Science Week info coming soon.

Have a great Science week

Energising Sustainable Communities

An International Schools Competition to design a sustainable city is being held in conjunction with the 2008 International Solar Cities Congress - Energising Sustainable Communities - options for our future. Students need to produce a design for an existing city or neighbourhood and the submission may take a range of forms including a poster, written report, drawing, poem. song, interview or essay (or any combination of these) in hard copy or electronic form. This competition provides an excellent opportunity for our students, particularly after the recent announcement that Alice Springs is to be the Fourth Solar City in Australia

Beating the Carbon Cops

Have you been watching the Carbon Cops on ABC TV during the holidays? I bet some of your students have. Now might therefore be a great time to dedicate a couple of lessons to the ways that we use energy and and produce carbon dioxide in our own homes, communities and lifestyles.

Imagine the difference we could make if all households reduced their carbon production by 50%.

Lessons on this may be supported by the Carbon Cops website which includes fact sheets and an emissions calculator. Another great website for this topic would of course be the official website of An Inconvenient Truth. This website includes an Education Guide which you can download. Copies of the DVD have also been sent to all schools.

Please feel free to share your your thoughts on these ideas or any practical examples of when you have studied this topic with your class.