How schools and community groups can be involved
Many school along the Merri, Moonee Ponds and Darebin Creeks, the Lower Yarra River and their tributaries are involved in our Waterwatch program. The Waterwatch program is an incursion and excursion based waterways environmental education program staffed by qualified environmental educators available free of charge thanks to the Cities of Moreland, Yarra and Whittlesea. If your school is based in another municipality we can offer fee for service or you can apply to participate in the River Detectives Program.
Our activities integrate the Victorian Curriculum's Learning Areas of Science, Mathematics, English, Humanities (Geography, Civics and Citizenship), Visual Arts and Health and Physical Education. We cover Creative and Critical Thinking and Personal and Social Capabilities. We specialise in activities and content of the following cross curriulum priorites:
Learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
Learning about Sustainability
We cater for all age groups from foundation to tertiary. We can meet you and your class at your local waterway. Consider integrating your session with other learning areas such as Outdoor Education as a bike ride or walk. If transport and time are a problem for schools we can come to you. Waterwatch provides all of the equipment and support necessary to be involved in this exciting hands-on program. An outline of our activities is below.
Waterwatch waterway monitoring (Foundation to Tertiary)
Learn about and check the health of local waterways by:
Waterbug discovery – students collect, group and identify pollution sensitive aquatic macro invertebrates (waterbugs).
Physical and Chemical Testing – Students use scientific equipment to investigate water quality - not all pollution can be seen. This activity can be extended to data interpretation, long term monitoring and a tour of your catchment, comparing water testing results upstream and downstream.
Fascinating Frogs (Foundation to Tertiary)
Frog activities include creating lifecycles and talking frogs (learn the calls of local frogs and play a game to try and remember them). Visit wetlands to see where real frogs hang out or we can bring live frogs to your school.
Litter clean ups and surveys (Foundation to Year 9)
A great activity for Clean Up Australia Day, National Water Week or an addition to any community programs your school is involved in. Students survey the types and amount of litter in your local waterway before removing it. The data collected from the litter survey can be used in maths, science and a variety of other content. This activity works well with other awareness raising activities such as drain stencilling and water testing. All equipment, safety advice, site assessments and a presentation on water quality health are included.
Drain stencilling and drain wanders (Foundation to Year 9)
Locate drains that lead to your local creek on this educative walk and talk about the impacts of urban stormwater pollution and how we can reduce its impact on our local biodiversity. Topics can include the impacts of microplastics, nutrients, turbidity, animal distribution and solutions to stormwater pollution. Drain stencilling involves students helping to paint educative messages on stormwater pits to remind the local community "this drain leads to the waterway." This activity can be the conclusion to an arts class where students can make their own stencils with local creek creatures.
Crafty Creatures (Foundation to Grade 6)
Students learn about creek life, consider the special adaptations of frogs and waterbugs and focus on features such as body shape. They use their observations to create similar creatures using a variety of natural and craft materials.
Habitat and Fauna Surveys (Grade 3 to Tertiary)
Students explore elements of a natural area, including waterways, and then score its health using a template to record observations about plants and animals (especially birds), weeds, litter, soil and water. Students discuss their views on habitat health and propose ways to improve it.
Food Webs (Foundation to Year 8)
During this interactive game participants take on the role of a plant or animal in the wetland or river food web. They discover what lives where and who eats what in the ecosystem. They find out what happens if something interrupts or is lost from the food web. A lesson about the impact of pollution and habitat relationships.
Stormwater Story (Foundation to Year 8)
Participants take the roles of characters that live along Merri Creek in various parts of the landscape such as grasslands, farmed land and urban areas. Each character adds a different type of pollution (from grass clippings to oil) into a bowl of water representing the creek to see how human activity impacts water quality.
The phosphate game (Grade 6 to Year 10)
The focus in this interactive game is waterway eutrophication and how nutrients such as phosphate and ammonium get into our waterways and the impacts on local ecosystems. Consider the impact on animals such as platypus, fish, frogs and aquatic birdlife. The game concludes with students conducting nutrient testing on a local waterway sample and discussion of impacts on water way health.
Measuring maths in nature (Grade 2 to Year 8)
Extend your maths lessons along in the field by measuring the velocity and volume of water flowing in your local creek, counting the amount of population and diversity of waterbugs to assess the health of your local creek, surveying the types and amount of litter or measure the height of a tree or how many leaves are on a tree. There are many ways to incorporate maths in a fun, practical and engaging way within the local environment. All worksheets are provided.
Catchment map and Catchment Tours (all levels)
In the field or in the classroom our huge map of the Merri Creek catchment brings home many messages about the nature of a catchment and provides an instructive tool for discussions with students about the environment.
If you have a bus available or bikes, students can take a tour of the local creek at an upstream and a downstream site, testing the water quality at both sites and comparing the results.