Program Overview

This Stage 3 program is designed to allow students the opportunity to observe the fascinating creatures of the rock platform. This program can be delivered at Bournda or at a selected rocky shore location close to your school. Students examine the structural features and adaptations that different species possess that allow them to survive in an intertidal environment. The students experience firsthand the physical conditions of the site and learn how this impacts on the growth and survival of the tide pool inhabitants. Additional activities focusing on animal adaptations are available to compliment the learning in this program.

Key Questions

What are some types of structural features and adaptations that help different species to survive?

How do the physical conditions of an environment impact on the growth, survival, behaviour and adaptations of the species that live there?

Learning Experiences

Adaptations at the rocky shore: 

Students work in groups and employ scientific methods to survey and collect living and non-living plants and animals from the rock pools and along the tide line. Bournda staff move between the different groups helping students collect their specimens, monitoring safety aspects and pointing out interesting species and phenomena.

On completion of the collection students assemble together on the beach to discover what interesting species have been found by other students. Students discuss how the physical conditions at the rocky shore (waves, temperature tidal movement and water chemistry) impact on the growth, survival, behaviour and adaptations of the species that live there. Bournda staff help students to complete their adaptations data collection sheets, identify species and explain interesting structural features that each organism employs to survive in the rocky shore environment. All specimens are then released unharmed.

Animal Adaptations:

Students learn what an adaptation is by constructing animals from different habitats. They are first introduced to the concept that animals are specifically adapted to the habitat they live in. Three environments are then explored; one arctic, one desert and one aquatic. Once the role-play activity has been completed for each environment, the students will have an understanding of adaptations and how they relate to the environments in which the organism lives.

Birds and their beaks:

Bird beaks is a program where students examine beaks of a variety of different birds and discuss the variation and features of each specimen. Students need to try and determine what type of diet each bird would eat based on the structural features of the beak. The different types of birds are then discussed and ID photos examined.

Doug Reckord taking to students about the environment
Red Capped Plover

Syllabus Outcomes

Science and technology K-6: Knowledge and understanding

A student:


describes how structural features and other adaptations of living things help them to survive in their environment


describes some physical conditions of the environment and how these affect the growth and survival of living things

Science and technology K-6: Skills


A student:
investigates by posing questions, including testable questions, making predictions and gathering data to draw evidence-based conclusions and develop explanations.

Science Content

Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment.


  • observe and describe the structural features of some native Australian animals and plants
  • present ideas and explanations about how the structural features and behaviour of some plants and animals help them to survive in their environment, eg shiny surfaces of leaves on sand dune plants and nocturnal behaviour in some animals

The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment.


  • identify some physical conditions of a local environment, eg temperature, slope, wind speed, amount of light and water
  • make predictions about how changing the physical conditions of the environment impacts on the growth and survival of living things, eg different amounts of light or water on plant growth or the effect of different temperatures on the growth of yeast or bread mould
  • use gathered data to develop explanations about how changing the physical conditions of the environment affects the growth and survival of living things

Students conduct investigations by:

  • working individually and collaboratively in conducting a range of appropriate investigation methods, including fair tests, to answer questions or solve problems
  • using suitable equipment and materials, checking observations and measurements by repeating them where appropriate
  • using equipment and materials safely, identifying potential risks
  • accurately observing, measuring and recording data, using digital technologies as appropriate
  • using formal units and abbreviations for measuring and recording data
  • suggesting improvements to the methods used to investigate a question or solve a problem