HPGE program – Stage 3 – Our Living World

Starfish Estuary Health
Examining creatures of the rocky shore, Bournda National Park

Program Overview

This Stage 3 program is designed to develop the talent of students who show high potential in the academic domain. It is specifically designed for students who show an interest in science and who would benefit from being able to develop their scientific skills at a higher level. This will be achieved through explicit teaching, challenging learning that extends students, high expectations and providing unique opportunities for students to learn.

The students will be learning about the local marine environment with a focus on our rocky shore. During this excursion students will examine the structural features and adaptations that different species of the rocky shore possess that allow them to survive in an intertidal environment. They will experience firsthand the physical conditions of the site and learn how this impacts on the growth and survival of the tide pool inhabitants. They will discuss with a marine biologist how a changing climate might impact on the survival and adaptations of these species and how we can take actions to help protect the animals and plants that call this environment home. The students will demonstrate their learning through the creation of a documentary using video footage and photographs they have taken at the rocky shore.

Cost – $5 per student

Key Questions

How do physical conditions affect the survival of living things?

How do the structural and behavioural features of living things support survival?

Learning Experiences

Structural and behavioural features that support the survival of living things – adaptations at the rocky shore

Students 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 assist the students to collect their specimens, monitoring safety aspects and pointing out interesting species and phenomena. Students record their data using photographs and video on iPad.

On completion of the collection students share the interesting species they have found with 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. Students complete an adaptations data collection sheet, identify species, group species and explain interesting structural features that each organism employs to survive in the rocky shore environment. All specimens are then released unharmed.

How do physical conditions affect the survival of living things – adapting to a changing climate

Students learn about a long-term research project that focuses on how local fish species are adapting to a change in water temperature, from a member of that research team. Students discuss with BEEC’s Marine Biologist how changing water temperatures may impact on marine environments and the species that live in them.

Documentary making

Students will record their data at the rocky shore using iPad, collecting both video and photographic recordings of the species they observe. They will create a documentary in iMovie to showcase their understanding of the taxonomy of the different species they observe, their unique adaptations and how and why there is a need to protect our biodiversity. The students will have the choice of creating a ‘David Attenborough’ style production or creating a field guide. They will be explicitly taught a variety of camera techniques whilst in the field as well as learning how to sequence video, add titles and captions, work with sound and create voiceovers. Students will focus on the processes of documentary making including the production process, narration, camera techniques and editing.

The finished products will be shared with the school.

To explore this subject further, Bournda EEC has created a free multi-touch iBook that educates students about the shorebirds that live in and around our rocky shores and beaches ‎Saving Our Shorebirds on Apple Books

Talent development through differentiation adjustments:

Complexity – Making connections between water quality and temperature and the health of the rocky shore. What if the physical conditions changed at the rocky shore? How might climate change have an impact on the creatures of the rocky shore?

Pace – Greater speed of content, less repetition.

Choice – Choice given to demonstrate evidence of learning through different styles of documentaries.

Higher Order Thinking – How will climate change effect our rocky shores? Six thinking hats used for a deeper analysis and justification of students’ responses.

Authenticity – Students take photos of living things found in rock pools and along the tide line to create a documentary to educate others about the importance of our biodiversity and of life on our rocky shores.

Challenge – Students are provided with opportunities to learn advanced level content through engagement with a Marine Biologist. Individual discussions with students are consistently catered to individual interests and learning needs.

Potential for Post-Visit activity –

Authenticity and Challenge – Design thinking, addressing current events and ideas to analyse complex concepts. What can we do to tackle climate change? How can we take action? Using real world problems from the local community to create a problem-based learning project. e.g., waste minimisation projects, regenerating areas with planting, protecting native wildlife and threatened species.

Syllabus Outcomes

Science and technology K-6:


A student examines how the environment affects the growth, survival and adaptation of living things.


A student plans and conducts scientific investigations to answer testable questions, and collects and summarises data to communicate conclusions.

English K-6:

EN3-1A  Respond to and compose texts

A student will plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for defined audiences and purposes, making appropriate choices for modality and emphasis.

EN3-2A Respond to and compose texts

A student will compose imaginative and informative texts that show evidence of developed ideas, compose texts that include sustained and effective use of persuasive devices, eg texts dealing with environmental issues, compose increasingly complex print, visual, multimodal and digital texts, experimenting with language, design, layout and graphics.

EN3-3A Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features.

A student will recognise the effect of multimedia elements, eg film techniques, animation, voice-overs, sound effects, framing, close-ups.

Science Content

Growth and survival of living things


  • describe how changing physical conditions in the environment affect the growth and survival of living things

Adaptations of living things


  • describe adaptations as existing structures or behaviours that enable living things to survive in their environment
  • describe the structural and / or behavioural features of some native Australian animals and plants and why they are considered to be adaptations

Expression of interest