Category Archives: Schools

The Stars of our Programs

Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that make the most impact.  Take sea stars for example –  these unassuming members of the marine world are more than just pretty decorations on the reef.

These topsy turvy creatures with their mouth underneath and their bottom up top, play a major role in keeping our oceans healthy.

Sea stars are the underwater clean-up crew.  They eat their way through debris discarded by other animals feeding frenzies, as well as targeting organisms that need to be kept in check.  The services they provide in the marine eco system has earnt them the title of keystone species.

And they’re not afraid to take on a big challenge.  These close relatives of sea urchins and sand dollars can consume creatures much larger than their small mouths would suggest, thanks to a stomach-turning technique they’ve perfected.

They can expel one of their two bellies outside their body to wrap around prey – this external digestion is a slow process, taking them up to 10 hours to finish their meal.

But this is only one of the tricks up their five more sleeves….. sea stars can regenerate entire bodies from just one severed limb.  This is because most of their vital organs are in the arms, including eye spots, which help them to sense light from dark as they move about in the ocean.

Not bad for an animal that has neither a heart nor a brain.  Instead, these echinoderms have a basic water vascular system which allows them to pump the surrounding sea through their bodies.  Even their tiny, suction-cupped feet, which they use to move about, are fed from the filtered water they draw in.

There are close to 2,000 species of sea stars in our oceans using these clever adaptations.  These sloths of the sea will never win any medals for speed but many can live up to 35 years – a rarity amongst marine animals of this size, which speaks volumes about their ability to beat the odds.

While, some are protected by a spikey, calcified skin, most just rely on their bright colours to deceive predators into believing they’re toxic to touch.

Ocean Life Education has long been a fan of sea stars – they are an integral part of our team of animal ambassadors that accompany us to all our presentations.

If you would like to gently touch and learn more about these amazing sea creatures and many others like them, contact us at Ocean Life Education on info@oceanlifeeducation.com.au Discover for yourself why this most unassuming of marine animals truly has star qualities.

Celebrating SeaWeek

There is one time of the year we look forward to more than any other at Ocean Life Education – when collectively as a nation, we take the opportunity to pay homage to the sea.

SeaWeek is Australia’s major public awareness campaign centred around our oceans – a chance to turn our attention on what the water does for us and what we in turn can do for it.

This year’s theme was ‘The Ocean made Earth Habitable’, focusing on how the majority of oxygen in our atmosphere has been produced by microscopic sea creatures during photosynthesis.  Thanks to their contribution over thousands of years, life on land was able to develop.

And the impact is still ongoing today – with more than 70 percent of the planet covered in water, it plays a major role in many aspects of our daily lives.

Australia has one of the largest ocean territories in the world – it drives our climate and weather and provides valuable resources. Marine animals and plants are found in medicines that are used to fight cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

On average, we each consume around 25 kilograms of seafood every year, harvesting more than 150, 000 tonnes of fish annually.

Eighty-five percent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of our vast shoreline – drawn to the water not only for food but fun as well. We have 10,000 beaches spread around our 50,000 kilometres of coast and almost 3 million of us own a boat allowing us to explore beyond the shallows.

But as we become more globally aware of climate change and the impact our modern lifestyle is having on the oceans, it’s time for us to breathe new life into the part of our planet that made all of this possible in the first place.

Ocean Life Education is dedicated to promoting the preservation of our marine environment.  Our Human Impact Program takes a close look at the effect we have on the world’s waterways and, most importantly, how we can make a change for the better to sustain our seas for generations to come.

To find out more and to become part of the solution, visit https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/

School’s in for Marine Life Lovers

Education Innovator Sir Ken Robinson recently noted: “A great teacher obviously knows their material, but the real skill is engaging them in the material, getting them excited and curious, and firing up their imaginations.”

And that’s where we come in!

Ocean Life Education delivers fun marine education incursions, where students are given the opportunity to interact with a variety of live marine creatures.

Our programs are all closely aligned with the Australian National Curriculum, delivering lessons across a broad range of topics including animal habitats, adaptations and classification.

Through carefully controlled contact, children learn why animals’ look and feel the way they do, how their bodies function, what their individual roles are in their environment and therefore why we need to look after them.

Responding to interactive learning

We understand all children are different and absorb information in different ways.

As passionate educators ourselves, the staff at Ocean Life Education value the importance of connecting students with their subject and showing them that science is a living, breathing part of their world.

Children respond extremely well to having real animals at their fingertips – this one-on-one experience provides a greater depth of understanding which leads to the desire to protect them.

Choose a program that suits current unit themes

What better way to understand Life Cycles, than to see one of our baby sharks at close quarters and observe the eggs they hatched from and note the often significant differences from their adult version?

We will tailor our programs to your classrooms’ current unit theme for all levels of school learning.

Leaders in environmental education

Ocean Life Education is proud to be involved in educating tomorrow’s leaders in environmental awareness and protection.

Our hope is to imprint in every Australian a sense of ownership and protectiveness of our marine environment, and together we will lead the world in the changes necessary for a healthy planet.

What to expect:

  • Linked to the Australian National Curriculum
  • Qualified and experienced Marine Educators
  • Live Marine Animal Interaction Blue linckia seastars, thorny seastars, black sea cucumber, tropical sea cucumber, sea urchins, fresh water turtle and baby bamboo shark 
  • Shark jaws, shells and fascinating artefacts in activity area
  • FREE colourful bookmark to take home!
  • FREE risk assessment
  • FREE coming to visit poster
  • FREE thorough supporting information, videos and blogs

What teachers think:

“ONE OF THE BEST INCURSIONS I HAVE EVER SEEN – KEEN, INTERESTING PRESENTERS WHO ARE TRULY PASSIONATE ABOUT THEIR SUBJECT!” Jasmine Molineux, Patricks Road State School, (Year 2) 2018

For more information, visit our School Programs page or Contact Us to request a program outline for your year level.

 

Ocean to Outback – Sights, Sounds and Smells of the Sea Go Bush

Considering they’re very basic creatures, sea stars have some pretty amazing abilities (like regrowing their own leg if they lose one!) but they don’t normally travel hundreds of kilometres inland… until now.

With a little assistance from Ocean Life Education, our Blue Linckia’s, along with the rest of our marine life menagerie, have temporarily migrated away from the coast to help students who rarely get to see the sea understand more about the challenges these animals face.

In a road trip lasting 3 days and covering close to 500 kilometres, Ocean Life Education is making sure children in Blackbutt, Nanango and Kingaroy don’t miss out on the chance to touch and learn about our wonderful animal ambassadors.

The Ocean to Outback initiative is supported by the State Government through its Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grant.

Why go to such extreme lengths to facilitate these encounters?  Oceans cover almost three quarters of our planet and produce more than half of the oxygen on earth while absorbing harmful carbon dioxide.

Ocean currents also move such a large body water between the equator and poles, they help to regulate the global climate which impacts all of us – even those that live well beyond the shoreline.  Keeping the oceans healthy is in everyone’s best interest.

But travelling with a crew of sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, hermit crabs and a shark is not without its challenges as water quality and oxygen levels are vital to their survival, especially in the hostile bush environment.

One thousand litres of salt water have been transported along with the animals to ensure they are stress free on their little adventure.

But all the planning, all the logistics have been worth it just to see the excitement on the faces of a whole new batch of ocean lovers, who may rarely hear the waves crash or smell the salt in the air but know the importance of caring about the underwater world – even this far from the coast.