On Monday 15 August, 2016, our  #GlobalU Year 9 and 10 extension group students were treated to a visit from the Kosciuszko Education Centre and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The Kosciuszko Education Centre and NPWS are currently developing a set of educational tasks inspired by the fact that 2016 marks 30 years of Mountain Pygmy-possum population montitoring and research in Kosciuszko National Park.

The Mountain Pygmy-possum is listed as Critically Endangered and can only be found in alpine and subalpine regions including theBogong High Plains and Mt Hotham, in Victoria, and Mt Kosciusko, Charlottes Pass and Blue Cow  in New South Wales.

NPWS Education Officer, Dan Nicholls, explained that the two aims of the educational tasks are:

  • to demonstrate how a Geographical Information System (GIS) can be used in park management and, in this case, for threatened species conservation; and
  • to explain how a Capture Mark Recapture (CMR) survey is used to monitor species populations and to inform management responses.

SMGS was selected as one of the program’s trial schools to find out if the tasks function well in the classroom and meets the intended learning outcomes. Later in the year, the tasks will be made available for all schools to download and use as part of their teaching tools and curriculum.

Of SMGS’ participation in the trial, Callum Ross, Head of Faculty, Humanities and Languages, said, “It is great for the school and students to have the opportunity to work with the local environment and NPWS. The application of classroom learning to real-life scenarios is the best way for our students to understand the processes that shape the world around them.”

Our students were equally impressed by the set of educational tasks and the learning opportunities they provided. We caught up with a few of the students after their experience with the trial, and their comments follow:

“It was interesting to learn about the very specific environment that the Pygmy-possum requires to survive and just how fragile this environment is. The online data analysis tool was also fun to use.” – Austin Beck

“The data analysis task provided by the KNP pushed my understanding of the local environments of native flora and fauna, and how incredibly rare the Pygmy-possums’ ecosystem truly is, and how easily it can be damaged or destroyed.” – Cooper de Pagter

“The session on Monday 15th August for the testing of learning resources recently made by the National Parks was insightful and a pleasure to be a part of. I think it is a great idea to make learning resources about the native animals of the Snowy Mountains and revolve it around the types of work that go on within the national parks, and an even better idea to involve the kids of Jindabyne. I learnt a lot during the session, both skill-based and knowledge-based. The learning resources were well thought-out and combine new knowledge with step-by-step processes in order to complete the tasks. Dan was a great help and was wonderfully open to feedback. Overall a great session for a great idea.” – Eve Donnelly

“The KNP data analysis was very informative and I learnt a lot about the Pygmy-possum. It was also eye-opening and I now know how endangered these small creatures really are.” – Sarah Ryan

When asked about the outcomes of the program, Mr Nicholls said, “We hope the tasks will be useful for creating greater understanding of the application of some scientific processes and demonstrating the use of GIS in conservation management. Also that the tasks will help to highlight the conservation of the endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum and serve to create interest in wider conservation and in the new conservation program, Saving Our Species,  which is being implemented in NSW national parks and across the state as a whole.”