Bush Blitz expedition a “life changer” for local teacher

ST Michael’s Collegiate maths and science teacher Louise Rogers was one of only five Australian teachers selected to take part in the 2017 Bush Blitz program.

Run in partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia, participants travel to locations across Australia to document and discover plants and animals in conservation areas.

The 2017 Bush Blitz program, which ran over eight-days, took place at Bradshaw station in the Northern Territory, an old cattle farm which is now owned by the Royal Australian Army.

Ms Rogers said it was a “life changing” experience.

“I learnt so much about conservation, invasive species, collection and monitoring techniques, the identification of species, as well as made useful connections within the science community,” she said.

“I was amazed at the diversity of the flora and fauna in the Northern Territory and I recommend every science teacher in Australia to apply for this expedition next year.

“It is such a unique opportunity to better understand our beautiful country and work with people that are really passionate about their jobs and their science.”

Each day, Ms Rogers was placed with a group of scientists and worked as their field assistant.

Ms Rogers said these scientists included arachnologists (spiders), ichthyologists (fish), entomologists (insects), botanists (plants), herpetologists (reptiles and amphibians) and ecologists (animals within an ecosystem).

“We would go out with the scientists to a location of interest and help them collect species of interest,” she said.

“Most of the techniques used were extremely low-tech and could easily be used in the classroom.

“We also had to maintain a blog and upload photos and videos for our classes to follow.

“Being able to Skype with my students was great and as they were working on tasks that I had created around the expedition, I could show them specimens that had been collected and introduce them to some of the scientists during our online sessions.”

Ms Rogers said the Bush Blitz experience allowed her to adopt a citizen scientist approach to her teaching.

“At the start of the year, I asked my year seven students to draw a picture of a scientist,” she said.

“The majority drew a picture of a male, usually older with crazy hair, a lab coat and glasses – as I teach in an all girls school, I found this discouraging.

“After this expedition, I was able to show them pictures and tell them about the female scientists – not wearing a lab coat, although the hair was a bit crazy at the end of the day – that were enthusiastic about what they and other scientists were doing.

“After seeing the huge impact that small changes can have within an ecosystem, I also realised how important it is that my students are aware of the interactions within an ecosystem and what they can do to help protect the flora and fauna around them.”

For more information about the Bush Blitz program, visit http://bushblitz.org.au.

Caption: St Michaels Collegiate maths and science teacher Louise Rogers travelled to the Northern Territory to document and discover plants and animals in conservations areas as part of the 2017 Bush Blitz program.

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