Educational resources and activities - wetlands and macrophyte beds

Classroom and outdoor activities

The DEP have developed a range of classroom activities and an outdoor interpretive walk focused on wetlands and macrophyte beds with support from the Australian Government's Caring for Our Country. The material is suitable for grades K – 10. A single classroom activity or the interpretive walk can be presented alone. However, the material has been designed to complement the interpretive walk, and if delivered together will enable students to gain a good understanding of the ecology and importance of wetlands and macrophyte beds to the broader estuary. The aim is to promote aquatic conservation by raising awareness of our impacts on urban waterways, the value of maintaining healthy waterways, and the need for habitat restoration and protection. This project also helps to develop the students listening, writing and recording skills through creating charts, making records of animal’s diet and sensitivity to pollution, thinking about biological processes, and creating visual classroom displays. Many of these activities also help students develop social skills such as working in a team, and considering the need for other creatures and the environment.

Classroom Activities

Wetland and Macrophyte Introduction (Grades 1 – 10)

The DEP website provides a general introduction to tidal wetlands and macrophyte beds in the Derwent estuary. In small groups ask students to explore the website to answer a range of general exploratory questions.

Discovery Cards (Grades 1 – 6)

If planning an excursion to wetlands and macrophyte beds (Gould’s Lagoon Discovery Trail) undertake this classroom activity before and after the field trip to promote scientific enquiry. Write questions about the habitat to be visited, revisit them in the field, and also when back in the classroom to see if they found the answers.

Wetland Critters in the Classroom - where they live and the effect of pollution (Grades K – 6)                

The aim of this activity id to identify the diversity of organisms that live in wetland habitats, and gain an understanding of habitat, in terms of where an organism lives, what it eats, and its requirements for breeding and survival. The activity also raises awareness of the varied impacts on urban waterways, the value of maintaining healthy waterways, and the need for habitat restoration and protection. Two tasks are presented ‘ Wetland critters and where they live’, and ‘How does pollution affect wetland organisms and the broader habitat’.

Dragonfly Life Cycle (Grades K – 6)

The most common type of wetland animals are invertebrates, and the most common of these are insects – a diverse and fascinating group of animals that are the base of wetland food chains. Read through info cards with the class, talking through a range of topics including insect anatomy, life-cycles, metamorphosis, and the need for a healthy aquatic environment. Provide time to talk through each card, and perhaps complete the questions and activities along the way. Activities include making dragonflies out of art materials, and drawing dragonfly life cycles and wetland food webs.

Outdoor Activities

Gould’s Lagoon Discovery Trail (all ages)

The Gould’s Lagoon Discovery Trail can be enjoyed by individuals, or led by a teacher/guide. Take the Trail by following 10 discovery points along a mapped walking trail and read from a detailed information sheet. Explore the diverse and productive world of wetlands and macrophyte beds to discover underwater grass meadows, water filtering plants, a diverse bird community, water bug community, and the threat of sea level rise, all in one short walk. Incorporate the ‘Wetland Detective’ and ‘Wonderful waterbugs’ activities to engage students further in this outdoor classroom. Currently there is no signage at the site, so it is essential you print out the Discovery Trail info pack and take it with you.

Wetland Detective (Grades 1 – 6)

After the highly visible animals have been sighted it is useful to consider the wide range of other users of the wetland that cannot be seen. Many animals visit the site only at night, or at certain times of the year. Print out one field sheet per student and hand them out at the start of the Discovery trail. Ask students to fill in the field sheets with a pencil to piece together the users and residents of the wetland by looking closely for signs, tracks and scats.

Wonderful Waterbugs (Grades 4 – 10)

Healthy wetlands contain an incredibly abundant and diverse community of microscopic animals. This activity focuses on collecting and looking closely at water samples to appreciate the number and variety of waterbugs that live there. It introduces students to the diversity of tiny animals that live in wetlands, the roles they play in processing nutrients, and their importance as food for larger wetland animals. Supervise students using dip nets and containers to collect and sort waterbugs, and follow identification charts to identify them.

Pied Oyster Catcher (Haematopus longirostris) by Dave Watts

Restoring and promoting the Derwent estuary