Module 2

Module 2 Home

'Best Practice' in Coastal
and Marine Studies





Resource 1 Some Aims, Characteristics And Objectives of Best Practice

Resource 2. Windows On Coastal And Marine Studies Lessons

Resource 3 Windows on Coastal and Marine Studies Programmes



Resource 1

Some Aims, Characteristics and Objectives of Best Practice

Professional Development
Preservice Teacher Training
Community Links

How and what teachers are teaching!

Best Practice

How and what students are learning!

Interpretation of graphs, maps, data
Physical skills - swimming, scuba diving, first-aid
Testing and analysing
Navigating, boating skills
How the coastal and marine environment is managed
Involving Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) communities
Interactions between species
Chemical properties of sea water
Aboriginal interests in the coast and sea
What pre-service teachers are learning
Partnerships between schools and universities
Industry and school programmes
Setting up a WWW page on the Internet
Aboriginal groups and school programmes
Assisting in research data collection for community groups
Setting up viable businesses (e.g. aquaculture)
Participating in related organisations
Indigenous ethic for land and sea management
Understanding human impacts on the coastal and marine environment
Concern for the coastal and marine environment

Resource 2

Windows On Coastal And Marine Studies Lessons

Source: Adapted from Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (1996) Coast and Marine Schools Project, Stage 1 - Part 3: Identification of Best Practice, Final Report, Canberra.

Read through the 'Windows' and then answer the following questions, through discussions with your group:

  • How do the lessons relate to your best practice framework?

  • Which of the six lessons would you most like to teach? Why?

  • Are any of the six lessons not really 'good' examples coastal and marine studies? Why?

  • How do the lessons help students learn for a sustainable environment?

  • What distinctive skills did the teachers in the six lessons need to make these activities a success?

Window 1

The classroom is empty as the students are outside working on a large art mural depicting the local coastal and marine environment. The mural is approximately six metres by four metres and features the beach to the deep sea marine life. All classes in the school from Years 1 - 7 are involved in work on the mural.

Window 2

A Year 3 class is collating the data they have collected from a crab survey the previous day. The data is being collated to show the number of crabs, the distribution of crabs and other evidence of crabs. After collating the data and drawing appropriate conclusions the students will prepare posters that show the importance of the crabs in the ecosystem.

Window 3

Year 8 students are entering data into the global 'Save the Beaches' programme through the Internet. The class surveyed an area of their local beach to sample pollution and analyse human impacts on the area as part of an Adopt-a-Beach scheme.

Window 4

The class is away on camp. Year 3 and 4 students are at a coastal camp site and are involved in a number of activities in an environment that many have not seen before. Some children have spent the afternoon looking for life in rock pools. Another group has been involved in a litter survey on the beach. This group is now classifying the litter and discussing where it might come from and the effect it has on coastal and marine organisms.

Window 5

In this classroom the students are reading a Fisheries Department booklet on commercial fishing. Their teacher has asked them to make a list of fishing methods used by commercial fishers and to list the species of fish caught for commercial consumption. One group of students is fascinated by a picture of the range of fish caught by a trawler. They notice sharks and many small fish are included in the catch. They have decided to find out more about the effects of trawling on non-target species and on the marine ecosystem.

Window 6

This classroom looks like a Council Chamber. Students are at the end of a four week study of coastal management. They are presenting their findings on a proposed local marina development in the form of a local council meeting. Students have worked in groups to research the opinions of various interest groups in their community about the proposed marina. They are now involved in a role play of the process by which the local council will decide on the issue. Councillor Alistair, the 'real' mayor has agreed to chair the simulated council meeting.

Resource 3

Windows on Coastal and Marine Studies Programmes

Source: Adapted from Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (1996) Coast and Marine Schools Project, Stage 1 - Part 3: Identification of Best Practice, Final Report, Canberra.

Read through the 'windows' and then answer the following questions, through discussions with your group:

  • How do the programmes relate to your best practice framework?

  • Which of the three programmes would you most like to be involved with? Why?

  • Are any of the three programmes not really 'good' examples of coastal and marine studies? Why?

  • How do the programmes help to students learn for a sustainable environment?

  • What distinctive skills did the teachers in the three programmes need to make these activities a success?

Programme 1: Caring for the Coast

School: Kingscote Area School

Duration: 2 weeks.

Grades of Students Involved: The whole primary school is involved from Reception to Year 7.

Number of Students Involved: 350 students

Curriculum Area of Programme: This programme is implemented through Studies of Society and Environment and incorporates Aboriginal Studies as part of its focus.

What is this programme about? All primary school students attend an extensive excursion that requires the students to interact with their local estuary salt marsh habitat at Cygnet River, a 20 minute walk from the school. All levels of students attend the excursion on different days and then participate in follow up activities at the school. Activities done on the excursion encompass a number of curriculum areas including poetry, sketching and scientific investigation. All activities require the students to use each of their senses, and at times particular senses are highlighted such as in a guided blind-folded walk along a rope.


Eventually, more coastal and marine issues are integrated into the students' secondary studies at this school through the geography course which incorporates units of work relating to coastal and marine issues. Again students participate in another excursion on Kangaroo Island that examines the physical elements and human impacts.

What are the general aims of the programme? By visiting the Cygnet River Estuary the students are able to heighten their awareness of the coastal areas of Kangaroo Island and look at conservation issues. The students are shown aspects of the area, the importance of the area is highlighted and reasons explored for looking after it.

What types of activities are involved in the programme? The excursion requires the students to participate in bird watching, micro-species investigation, sketching, documenting animal and plant species adaptations, and discussions on environmental protection issues. The students' use of their senses was also included in the day's activities.

What do you believe is the most valuable aspect of the programme and why? Getting the students involved in their own environment allows them to connect and develop an association with it, which will promote a sense of responsibility which may lead to the students having a role to play with its protection in the future.

What resources do you believe are important to your programme?
A major assistance to this project was Bill Prime from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He contributed to the activities and explanations of the environment. Local knowledge and having access to people who are familiar with the environment were also beneficial to the project. Technical equipment used was simple though effective. Written resources and coastal activities were useful teaching aids which were adapted to our own environment. <

Programme 2: Marine Studies

School: Star of the Sea School

Duration: This is an ongoing process that varies throughout each year level.

Grades of Students Involved: Students from Reception up to Year 7 are involved.

Number of Students Involved: 400 students

Curriculum Area
: A marine studies programme is linked directly to the Statements and Profile documents, particularly for Science and Studies of Society and Environment.

What are your programmes about?
Presently the school has been heavily involved in sea week activities and has initiated many marine studies projects which include: the creation of a large art mural depicting three levels of coastal and marine environments. The mural, which stands approximately six by four metres in size, involved the participation of every class in the school and features the beach and deep sea marine life. The school has also created a sand dune profile within the school grounds. This sand dune profile, which extends over 100 metres, replicates the types of vegetation found in sand dunes and uses native plants.

The students have also developed an 'explanation board' to accompany this sand dune area providing student directed learning activities which in turn promotes the coastal environment. At the same time the school participates in a sand dune area ownership programme where students from the school are responsible for the planting and maintenance of a sand dune area close to the school. A salt water aquarium which houses marine life from the St Vincent's Gulf (e.g. sea snails, sea stars and anemone) represents the temperate zone of sea life found in South Australian waters.

This school is also on the eve of setting up a Marine Discovery Centre with computers, models, hands-on activities, aquarium, nature trails, modern equipment and experiments. This will be initially set up in an existing classroom and then transferred to a house adjacent to the school.

What are the general aims of the programme?
The aim of the programme and the Marine Discovery Centre is to empower students to take action to protect the coastal and marine environment. Other educational outcomes include: increasing awareness of the pressures on natural resources; increasing understanding of the natural environment; and increasing appreciation of the natural systems. It is also important to promote a respect for the environment which may result in decreasing the detrimental impacts of humans on the environment through such programmes.

What types of activities are involved in the programme?
One of the main foci of this school is sand dunes. The school has recently been nominated as a Landcare Focus School. Students also participate in the Adopt-A-Beach global programme and share their information about the pollution status of a local beach with schools from all around the world through the Internet. World Environment Day is also celebrated by the school.

What do you believe is the most valuable aspect of the programme and why?
The programme develops enthusiasm in the students. The Marine Discovery Centre will provide primary students in South Australia with access to meaningful and exciting learning opportunities in marine education. It is also an excellent way to promote and educate all members of the community about our fragile coastline. The Centre's activities will be linked closely with Aboriginal people and their relationship with the coast.

What resources do you believe are important to your programme?
An essential part of developing marine programmes and the Marine Discovery Centre is the support of local community groups and Council, government departments, school staff and other interstate Marine Discovery Centres. Financial support and technical guidance are invaluable. The facilities such as the house, aquarium tanks and computer hardware and software are provided through funding by the previously mentioned groups and Fishcare. The project also needed to be developed gradually and not implemented all at once.

Programme 3: 'Tailor Sampling' and Gifted and Talented Programme

School: Carnarvon Senior High School

Duration: This is an ongoing programme.

Grades of Students Involved: Mainly Years 11 and 12

Number of Students Involved: Presently 40 students are involved. Eventually all students will be involved.

Curriculum Area: This programme is implemented in the science curriculum.

What is this programme about?
This marine studies programme involves senior and junior students sampling fish in the inshore fishing communities of Shark Bay. The main emphasis of this project is to locate and monitor juvenile Tailor Fish, as scientific data about the growth and abundance of this species in waters north of the 23rd parallel is non-existent.

All students involved in this programme participate in fish sampling procedures. There are four sites where data and fish samples are collected within the Carnvaron District. At these sites students are responsible for collecting data of the physical environment as well as identifying a range of variables at each of the locations. Students work in groups of 3-4 and are assigned particular fish species to monitor. This information is recorded on data sheets at the sites.

This is done over three days every month at each of the sites. On average 25 senior students and two teachers or 15 'Gifted and Talented' students and one teacher assist in this data collection.

Fish and algae samples are collected using a seine net. If the catch is small the length and weight of the fish species is measured at the site and recorded on a separate biological data sheet. Usually the fish sampled are too numerous and need to be returned to the school, vacuum frozen, labelled and stored in a freezer until more time becomes available to measure and weigh each species during class time.

When class time is available the students defrost their assigned fish species and record the length and weight of each fish. The fish species need to be identified using dichotomous keys. Any unknown specimens are identified by the Curator of Fisheries at the Western Australian Museum. When all sites are finished, the students enter their findings into a computer using Excel spread sheets and graphically represent each site's data. The information is saved on each student's disc for the full year. These discs are all gathered and kept together at school with the original data sheets.

What are the general aims of the programme? These programmes encourage students to participate in scientific research directly related to their community. Student awareness of fish species and marine ecosystems of their region is increased through their participation in the data collection and research. Other skills such as team work, communication and the students technical abilities improve throughout the programme.

What types of activities are involved in the programme? Activities included in this programme involve compilations of environmental data and survey methods such as water temperature readings, turbidity readings, depth measurements, salinity readings and river width readings.

The programme also includes collecting, bagging and labelling the data, such as lengths and weights of sample fish. Cleaning the equipment is also an essential part of the programme.

The last stage of this programme involves entering the research information into the schools' computers. Providing a graphic representation of the information assists the students in the analysing process. The gathered information is regularly presented in a report format. Later the raw data as well as the students' reports are sent to the fisheries department in Perth.

What do you believe is the most valuable aspect of the programme and why? Hands-on experience with the local coastal and marine environment on a regular basis is an important component of the programme. This experience is enhanced by the range of skills the participating students develop during the classroom activities.

The students' self-esteem is improved if they are contributing to an important study of their local environment. This programme encourages responsibility towards their local community and their surrounding environment.

What resources do you believe are important to your programme? Access to the ocean is one of the most important factors of this programme. Support from administration and other staff members provides the flexibility needed to develop an adequate timetable structure and use of computer rooms. Another imperative for the success of the programme was the real need for it to exist. The Fisheries Department had gaps in its information about Tailor Fish in the Carnarvon waters. As this district supports a large recreational fishing contingent, there was a need to supply the Fisheries Department with the relevant information about the fish species of the area. As a result the students could be made aware of the significance of the research and its impact on the community.

The reference materials gathered from people doing similar research in regions were a valuable resource. Similarly the written material from the Fisheries Department, such as the data sheets and fish identification dichotomous keys, were important to the programme. The contribution made by the staff at the Western Australian Museum, in the classification and identification of fish species is also a valuable part of the programme.