It can be beneficial (and more importantly, fun!) to move the science classes out of the classroom and into the outdoors, and primary school teacher Wendy Johnson from Gippsland Grammar in Victoria has done just that, by utilising the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and its educational resources with her students.

As an end of year exercise, the students in the year 5 class were introduced to the ALA website, and then each assigned a different area of the school ground and given about 10 minutes to observe and record birds in their area.  Some samples of the students’ work are shown below.

Student work sample 2
Students drew pictures of the birds they saw and made notes.
Student Work Sample 1
Students recorded the behaviour of the birds observed.










Wendy initially intended for the lesson to take approximately one hour to complete, but it went well over that time, and she could see many opportunities for the exercise to be extended. The class didn’t photograph any of the birds that day, but Mrs Johnson said that “Using the ALA website and logging their observations would fulfil the information technology component of the curriculum. Creating public awareness posters or creating slide shows to share with the school community are other options.” She also mentioned the possibility of additional outdoor activities with the ALA, saying “in Sale there are several wetland locations which could be used for class excursions, or for students to take on in their own time”.

Wendy highlighted how the ALA could be a useful tool in answering some of the students’ everyday questions about local flora and fauna. “There was a situation at school, where an unusual bird was seen which we think was a Yellow Rosella. This could be investigated using the Atlas to see if it was a lone sighting”.

Yellow Rosella
Students previously thought they had seen a Yellow Rosella, which is not commonly found in the area. Photo: Peter Weinstock Source: ALA Individual Sighitngs

Wendy was both surprised and pleased at the level of enthusiasm and interest the students showed, “given that the lesson was conducted in the last week of school, when students are usually less focused”.

The Atlas of Living Australia educational resources can be found on the website. Click here for further information.