Citizen Science for school students

Citizen science projects are a great way to engage school students in scientific research and environmental monitoring. In Australia, there are several projects that students can get involved in.

Here are some examples:

Students can participate in wildlife monitoring and observation projects. You can report sightings of native animals like birds, possums, or kangaroos through platforms like the Urban Wildlife App

FrogID is a project by the Australian Museum that involves recording and identifying frog calls. Students can use the FrogID app to record frog calls in their local area. This data helps researchers monitor frog populations and biodiversity.

Seek by iNaturalist allows curious naturalists of all ages to earn badges and participate in challenges to observe organisms with on-screen identification using computer vision for identifications based on data from iNaturalist.

The National Waterbug Blitz is a nationwide waterway monitoring event. Everyone is encouraged to become ‘citizen scientists’ and investigate the health their local waterways and wetlands by exploring and identifying the waterbugs.

Students can learn about local flora by participating in tree planting initiatives and surveys of native plants. This helps with reforestation efforts and conserving native species. The School Tree Day is on 26 July 2024

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great birdwatching and monitoring projects. Students can participate in bird surveys, recording the species they see and their behaviours.

The Australian Pollinator Count is taking place during Australian Pollinator Week, from 11-19  November. Taking part is quick and easy. You simply need to observe some flowers for 10 minutes, record the pollinators you see and register your results.

Australia has a unique range of native bee species. Students can learn about these bees and participate in bee monitoring projects to help researchers understand and protect these important pollinators.

Students can set up weather stations at their schools or homes and contribute to climate data collection. Organizations like the Bureau of Meteorology offer resources and guidelines for setting up these stations.

To get involved in these projects, students can often find information on the websites of relevant organizations, science institutions, or local community groups. It’s also a good idea to reach out to teachers, as many schools have partnerships with organizations that offer citizen science opportunities. These projects not only provide valuable data for research but also offer a hands-on and engaging way for students to learn about the environment and scientific processes.

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Celebrating Biodiversity Month

September is Biodiversity Month, a time to celebrate our natural wonders and diverse ecosystems. Biodiversity Month offers us the perfect opportunity to pause and appreciate the beauty, complexity, and importance of biodiversity. Biodiversity Month also encourages us to reflect on our relationship with the natural world and take action to protect it.

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Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth and is typically a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level.

Genetic diversity

Genetic diversity is the variety of genes within a species. Each species is made up of individuals that have their own particular genetic composition. This means a species may have different populations, each having different genetic compositions. To conserve genetic diversity, different populations of a species must be conserved.

Species diversity

Species diversity is the variety of species within a habitat or a region. Some habitats, such as rainforests and coral reefs, have many species. Others, such as salt flats or a polluted stream, have fewer. In Australia, more than 80% of plant and animal species are endemic, which means that they only occur naturally in Australia.

Ecosystem diversity

Ecosystem diversity is the variety of ecosystems in a given place. An ecosystem is a community of organisms and their physical environment interacting together. An ecosystem can cover a large area, such as a whole forest, or a small area, such as a pond.

Biodiversity Month serves as a reminder of the extraordinary diversity of life on our planet and the importance of preserving it. Biodiversity is not just a concern for scientists and conservationists; it’s a global responsibility that each of us can contribute to in our own way. Whether through education, advocacy, or personal lifestyle choices, we can all play a role in safeguarding the web of life that sustains us. So, this September, let’s celebrate and protect the incredible biodiversity that enriches our world.

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National Tree Planting Day

Trees play a vital role in supporting life on Earth and their significance encompasses ecological, environmental, social, and economic aspects. You can make a difference by planting tree on any day especially Schools Tree Day on Friday 28th July, National Tree Day is Sunday 30th July.

Australian dry forest

Here are some key reasons why trees are essential:

  1. Oxygen production: Trees are primary producers of oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, making the air we breathe cleaner and more breathable.
  2. Carbon sequestration: Trees act as natural carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. They play a critical role in mitigating the effects of global warming by reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  3. Biodiversity support: Forests, which are primarily composed of trees, are incredibly diverse ecosystems that provide habitat and sustenance for a vast array of plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms. Trees contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and help maintain a balanced ecosystem.
  4. Soil conservation: Tree roots help prevent soil erosion, which is crucial for maintaining fertile soil and preventing landslides and desertification.
  5. Water cycle regulation: Trees influence the water cycle by absorbing and releasing water through their roots and leaves. They help regulate rainfall patterns, prevent floods, and maintain groundwater levels.
  6. Climate regulation: Large forests and mature trees have a moderating effect on local and global climates. They regulate temperature, humidity, and precipitation patterns, creating a more stable environment.
  7. Wildlife habitat: Trees provide shelter, food, and nesting sites for a wide range of animal species, including birds, mammals, and insects. Many creatures rely on trees for their survival.
  8. Economic value: Trees are essential for various industries, including timber, paper, and pharmaceuticals. They provide raw materials for construction, furniture, and other products, supporting economies and livelihoods.
  9. Aesthetic and recreational benefits: Trees enhance the beauty of landscapes, parks, and urban areas, contributing to the overall well-being and mental health of people. Green spaces with trees offer opportunities for relaxation and recreation.
  10. Air quality improvement: Trees act as natural air purifiers, filtering harmful pollutants and particulate matter from the air, which is especially crucial in urban environments with high levels of pollution.
  11. Noise reduction: Trees can absorb and dampen sound, reducing noise pollution and creating a more peaceful environment.
  12. Health benefits: Interacting with trees and spending time in natural environments has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health, reducing stress, anxiety, and promoting overall well-being.

Given their numerous ecological and societal benefits, the preservation and responsible management of trees and forests are essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our planet.

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Roaring Back in Time

National Dinosaur Day is a time to celebrate Australian Dinosaurs is celebrated on 7 May every year. This special day is a time to recognize and appreciate these incredible prehistoric creatures that roamed the Earth millions of years ago.

The first known dinosaur fossil was discovered in England in the early 1800s. Since then, hundreds of species have been identified all over the world, including Australia. The study of dinosaurs has provided us with invaluable insights into the evolution of life on our planet.

Dinosaur Fossils in Australia

Queensland, in particular, boasts some of Australia’s most significant dinosaur discoveries. The Dinosaur Trail and Winton is the gateway to the prehistoric past. I visited the world-renowned Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum last year, you can see ongoing fossil discoveries and even participate in dinosaur digs. One of the most remarkable dinosaur fossil discoveries in the areas is “Banjo,” Australia’s most complete carnivorous dinosaur.

Whether you are a lifelong dinosaur enthusiast or just starting to learn about these amazing creatures, today is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate their place in history and learn more about the science behind their existence. With new discoveries and advancements in technology, the study of dinosaurs continues to fascinate and inspire people of all ages. So why not join in the fun and celebrate? You never know what you might learn!

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2022: it’s a wrap

What a year it has been! 2022 started with continued restrictions in the education sector. As the year progressed restrictions were reduced and face to face session were able to resume. It was also great to participate in community events again.

Australian Environmental Education 2022 in review

15,000 people were reached across all the programs and events during 2022. Over 150,000 people visited 250,000 pages across the website for their earth and environmental science needs. There were 6.6 million impressions on Google, with the Noises in the Night , Geologic Timescale and the Scientific Method the top 3 performing pages.


Education services finalist poster

Finalist in the 2022 Local Business Awards: Northern Districts for Outstanding Education Services and Outstanding Business Person of the Year.

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Australian Environmental Education was awarded ‘Top Sustainability Blogs’ of 2022 by Twinkl

2022 was a great year and I’m looking forward to see what 2023 brings.

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Amazing Minerals

Last week I visited the new Minerals Exhibition at the Australian Museum. It was amazing to see the minerals collection on display again. All my old favourite specimens were back along with new specimens and interactives.

I have loved rocks and minerals my whole life and started my rock collection when I was 4 years old. Thankfully it has improved in quality since then and I have moved past painting river stones in my backyard.


One of my favourite objects from the old museum’s display has always been a large Molybdenite specimen. Molybdenite is extremely soft with a metallic luster.

I would talk about that specimen when I took highlight tours as a volunteer at the Australian Museum over 25 years ago. I loved that is was a metal, but very soft and that one of its uses was as an industrial lubricant. There are so many other stories connected with the amazing mineral collection and my time at the museum. It was an honour to be able share my passion with visitors for so many years.

If you don’t already have one, I challenge you to find your favourite rock or mineral. Why not start your search at your local natural history museum and find your passion.

If you are in Sydney check out the new minerals exhibition at the Australian Museum. A visit to this new exhibition is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon or explore with the kids school holidays.

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Coastcare Week

Coastcare Week 2022 is about discovering what you can do to help protect our coasts and marine environments. Australian Environmental Education has a range of free resources to show what you can do to help protect our coasts, no matter where you live across Australia.

Where the rivers meet the sea

Explore of the interactions between the land and sea. Eighty-five percent of Australians live within 50km of the coast. This session looks at the waste that washes downstream in our catchments, the impacts it has on our estuaries, wetlands and coastal areas where the rivers meets the sea.

Mangroves on Georges River Sydney

Marine Life

Take a journey beneath the waves with Karen from Australian Environmental Education to explore Australia’s amazing marine life. Discover different marine habitats and the animals that live there.

Clockwise: male White’s seahorse, stars and stripes puffer, mourning cuttlefish and common stingaree
© John Turnbull

How to conduct a beach survey

Recognise Coastcare Week by learning how you can conduct a beach survey. Our coasts are impacted by our actions on land. Rubbish and microplastics can be found washed up on almost every Australian beach. Join Karen from Australian Environmental Education to learn more about micro plastics and how to conduct a beach survey.

Detail of hands holding colander with microplastics on the beach
Detail of hands holding colander with microplastics on the beach

Caring for our Oceans

Coastcare Week is about working together to care for our coastal and marine environments. Our coasts are impacted by our actions on land. Rubbish and microplastics can be found washed up on almost every Australian beach. These are great activities to do with your high school students.

The Beach Survey provides a starting point to understand the types of rubbish in the marine environment.

The Beach Clean up can help you work together as a team and community to remove this of rubbish.

Find out more about the impacts on plastics in our oceans.

Coastcare Week

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Cicadas Chorus

In Australia we know it is summer when the Cicadas starts their chorus. Cicadas are the loudest insects in the world and emerge from their underground world in late spring and summer. The peak Cicada season is November and December.

Cicadas Red Eye Cicada on tree
Red Eye Cicada Psaltoda moerens

Cicadas spend most of their life underground with many large Australian species living underground as nymphs for around 6-7 years. This is why in certain years some species are more abundant than others, there is often peaks every few years.

Listen out for the sounds of cicadas and keep an eye out for their exoskeletons on trees, walls, fences and shrubs.

The life of an adult cicada is very short, lasting only a few weeks. The female cicada lays its eggs by piercing plant stems and inserting the eggs into the slits it has made. The eggs hatch and are small, wingless nymphs. They fall to the ground and burrow below the surface. They live on the sap from plant roots and when the nymph reaches full size it digs its way to the surface. The nymphs then climbs on to a tree trunk or other object and sheds its skin for the last time. The fully-winged adult cicada which emerges leaves its old empty skin behind.

Watch the Cicada Lifecycle video form the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Did you know?

  • Australia has an estimated 750 to 1000 species of cicada
  • Only male cicadas sing. They do this in an attempt to find a mate.
  • Different species have different songs to attract only their own kind.
  • Adult cicadas have short lives, usually only a few weeks.
  • Most of their lives are spent as nymphs underground. For some species this can be up to several years.
  • Cicadas feed only on plant sap using their piercing, sucking mouthparts.
  • Cicadas feed on a huge range of plants, including eucalypts and grasses.
  • Birds, bats, spiders, wasps, ants, mantids and tree crickets all prey on cicadas.

I heard a weird cicada sound during a walk around the Badu Wetlands in Sydney Olympic Park. As I got closer, I discovered a Praying Mantis devouring a cicada.

If you love cicadas too follow Cicadarama. They are an Australian-based project focused on learning about the lives of cicadas. They need your help, become a Citizen Scientist and log your Cicada sighting.

FrogID Week 2022

FrogID Week 2022 is on between 11 – 20 November.  This is the fifth FrogID Week and you can get involved. Australia is home to about 240 species of native Amphibians, all of which are frogs. In urban areas, human development has reduced the natural habitat available to frogs. FrogID Week is a great way to learn about frogs living in your backyard.

Help to record frog calls during FrogID Week using the free app and uncover which frogs live in your backyards, local parks and bushlands. Your recording can help identify changes to local frog populations and inform frog conservation across Australia. Download the free FrogID app today and help us count Australia’s frogs.

Watch the Focus on Frogs video to find out more about Frogs.

You can create a frog friendly garden

Frogs are very sensitive to water loss because their skin is permeable. This also means Frogs are really sensitive to chemicals. Frogs can end up absorbing chemicals that could harm or potentially even kill them. Pesticides can also deplete the frogs’ food source.

You can encourage frogs to come to live and breed in your backyard by creating a frog friendly garden. Create a small shallow pond in an area that is partly shaded or install a Frog Hotel.

Reducing chemicals use in your garden 

Creating a Frog Habitat 

Be patient and wait, if you build it they will come

Use FrogID to research the frogs that are found in you local area. This will help you work out what kind of habitat will suit your backyard best.

You can use PVC pipe to create a habitat for tree frogs. Frog Tubes are an easy way to provide somewhere safe for tree frogs to live too. Use a 1 metre length of PVC pipe and stick the base in the ground to tie them to a tree. It provides a really moist environment for tree frogs to hide in.

A Frog Hotel is a great option for tree frogs and provide them a safe place to hide during the day. Check out the video below for step by step instructions on how ro make a Frog Hotel.

Discover more about Frogs and some of their amazing adaptions. There are also lots of information to create a frog friendly backyard in your area.

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Celebrating 3 years

Today is Threatened Species Day and it is a day to raise awareness of plants and animals at risk of extinction. Threatened Species Day is also significant for me as it is the anniversary of Australian Environmental Education which I started in 2019. The last 3 years have been full of many challenges and thankfully many rewarding experiences.

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In the last 3 years I have written almost 160 webpages and 70 blog posts. I have really enjoyed creating all the content for the website and to see the information being used by so many people. There have been over 175,000 visitors viewing 300,000 pages and over 8 million impressions on Google.

The What’s in your Backyard series of videos on YouTube have been watched over 20,000 times. These videos are especially popular at the moment with people wanting to connect with their local environment.

I have been delivering onsite and online programs to councils, schools, vacation care centres and students learning from home. Since starting Australian Environmental Education 3 years ago I have delivered over 350 programs reaching over 50,000 students.

I was also recently awarded one of the top sustainability blogs of 2022 by Twinkl Education. It was great to have all the hard work over the last 3 years recognised and to know that the blogs, resources and activities are utilised.

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