As part of a unit called ‘Save our Seas’, the school’s entire Year 7 cohort ventured into Byron Bay for outdoor lessons that included elements of geography, history, science, maths and English.
“The main drive behind us doing project-based learning, is allowing these kids to learn through real world issues that allows them to make connections to the community,” their science teacher, Aisling Hall, says.
Before the students could determine their solutions, they needed to analyse and understand what marine debris is, what it does to the environment and what it looks like locally.
So to kick the day off, the group engaged in a big cleanup along Byron’s Main Beach.
“Tamlin Mackenzie from the Dorroughby Environmental Education Centre gave the kids a talk at the start of the lesson and she helped work with them on analysing and quantifying the debris that they picked up, where it came from, they had little charts and logged their data into the national marine debris database,” Hall says.
From there, the 71 students rotated through some workshops.
“They had one that was based on geography where they did a site analysis and walked around the town and looked at the demographics and understanding the council’s role,” Hall says.
Another workshop, run by English teachers, was based on poetry of the sea and reflections, and involved students engaging with the sounds and smells of the sea.
“We made links to ecosystems … and we talked about what would happen if this piece of rubbish was eaten by the dolphins that live out there,” Hall says.
“They then started looking at food webs and food chains.”
An important part of the unit is the stories and history of the local Arakwal people.
“We were very lucky, we ran into some of the local mob...
“So three guys from the local Aboriginal community came and sat down and spoke with the kids. It was really gorgeous.” Hall says.
It’s clear Hall has a passion for the ocean. ”I was a marine scientist before I started teaching, so this is kind of my baby,” she laughs.
“I just knew that if we want to make a difference we need to start with our young people; if we do it right in schools we have a massive opportunity to inspire people about the world around them.”