Reef conservation forms classroom curriculum for Bundy kids
BUNDABERG schools are joining forces with local tourism operators to implement reef education in the classroom, as part of the Reef Guardian Schools program.
Accompanied by teacher Judith Stutchbury and teacher aide Kathryn Walmsley, Year 6 students and Reef Guardian leaders from Kalkie State School recently went out on the ocean with the team from the Lady Musgrave Experience, to put their virtual reef learnings into action.
"Students were excited to participate in a science Week live virtual conference presented by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority recently, which was an introduction to the Great Barrier Reef and outlined the present threats," Ms Stutchbury said.
"Many Reef Guardian activities have understandably been cancelled this year, so this was a great opportunity for students to experience first-hand the science they are learning."
Arriving at the Port of Bundaberg, students met with owner of the Lady Musgrave Experience Brett Lakey, before hopping on the luxury catamaran and heading out to sea.
Students were taught how to balance on the boat when sea conditions were a little choppy and witnessed a pod of five humpback whales about 18 miles out at sea.
"(The experience) was amazing, especially when two whales did a simultaneous breach right in front of the boat," said Kalkie State School student Mikaylah Bain.
"It was even great learning how to safely walk around on the boat in the waves."
Learning facts about the ocean mammals, the Reef Guardian Leaders learnt that whales have two blowholes, they need to come up to the surface for air but can hold their breath for more than half an hour and that they communicate by singing.
The participating students then prepared a report and shared their experience during a presentation at school parade the following week.
"In our science and Reef Guardian lessons we have been learning about the threats to the Great Barrier Reef, (with) climate change being the biggest," Kalkie State School student Kaden Walmsley said.
"We are looking at how we can all make a difference to the greenhouse gas emissions."
Year 6 student and Reef Guardian leader Harrison Keightley said he had never been whale watching before the excursion and after talking about the ocean in class, it was great to be able to experience it for himself first-hand.
As part of the school curriculum, students will explore the current threats to the Great Barrier Reef and are encouraged to take action to protect it both at school and home.
In addition, students were also shown the site for the new underwater accommodation and observatory and plan to return for a class excursion once construction is completed.
Kalkie State School is one of 276 schools who participate in the Reef Guardian School program, which aims to educate more than 120,000 students about reef conservation.
The whale watching tour was made possible thanks to a donation from the Rotary Club of Bundaberg Sunrise.