Classification and adaptation - Stage 4 Teacher Notes

Information for teachers of Stage 4 students preparing students for a self-guided exploration of the Surviving Australia exhibition at the Australian Museum.

Surviving Australia

Photographer: Carl Bento © Australian Museum

Before your visit

The Classification and adaptation activity sheets are intended for Stage 4 Science students. The activities are designed for a self-guided visit to the Museum's newest permanent exhibition, Surviving Australia.

Syllabus links

Excerpts from the New South Wales Board of Studies Science 7-10 syllabus document are detailed below. They show all the links between the syllabus content for Stage 4 and the Surviving Australia exhibition.

Prescribed focus areas, knowledge, understanding and skills for Stage 4 Science:

4.5 current issues, research and developments in science

  • a) describe some recent scientific contributions made by male and female scientists, including Australians, and discuss the effect of their contributions. C&A

4.8.2 classification

  • a) classify living things according to structural features and identify that they have patterns of similarities and differences
  • b) identify a range of plants and animals using simple keys.
  • Additional Content - Classification: identify that living things can be divided into a number of major kingdoms, discuss the concept of a species, design simple keys to identify a range of living things, classify organisms as being autotrophic or heterotrophic.

4.8.4 multicellular organisms

  • a) identify that there is a wide range of multicellular organisms

4.10 ecosystems

  • a) describe some adaptations of living things to factors in their environment
  • b) describe, using examples of food chains and food webs from Australian ecosystems, how producers, consumers and decomposers are related.
  • Additional Content - Ecosystems
    - identify factors that affect the size of populations of organisms, including competition for resources, predators, birth and death rates.

4.16 gathering information from secondary sources

  • a) use a range of sources ... to access information
  • b) use a variety of techniques ... to identify appropriate information
  • c) extract information from ... graphs, flow diagrams, other texts and audio/visual resources
  • d) summarise information from identified oral and written secondary sources.

4.22.1 working individually

4.22.2 working in teams

Pre-visit activities

To make the most of your visit to the exhibition we recommend that you prepare your students beforehand by:
• introducing concepts related to adaptation and classification
• introducing or revising relevant terminology used in the Classification and adaptation student activity sheets
• providing a context for the excursion to the Museum including the reasons for visiting the Museum, the tasks to be completed and the expected outcomes.


Please photocopy the following materials for each student:
• Classification and adaptation student activity sheets,
Surviving Australia Exhibition Floorplan.

The following materials should also be photocopied for each supervising adult:
Australian Museum Guide Map
Surviving Australian Exhibition Guide (optional)
• your excursion timetable including your booked session time(s).

At the Australian Museum


Your Booking Confirmation form will indicate the cost of your Museum entry and any additional components. Payment by cheque can be made on the day. Alternatively, if you would like your school to be invoiced, please bring your Booking Confirmation form with you on the day of your excursion and present it at the Admissions Desk on entry to the Museum.

On-site activities: Classification and adaptation

The Classification and adaptation activity sheets are based on displays in the Australian Museum’s Surviving Australia exhibition located on Level 2 of the Museum.

The activities enable students to explore concepts related to classification, ecosystems, adaptations and biodiversity while surrounded by a rich array of live and prepared specimens.

There are five self-guided activities each based in a different section of the Surviving Australia exhibition. The activities are:

  1. Collecting, naming and identifying
  2. Invertebrates of the sea
  3. Vertebrates from island homes
  4. Backyard invertebrates
  5. Adapt or die

Surviving Australia exhibition

The Surviving Australia exhibition is divided into six main thematic areas:

• Blue Edge
• Island Homes
• Our Backyard
• Dangerous Australians
• Adapt or Die
• Where are They Now?

The Surviving Australia Exhibition Guide details the content of the exhibition.

Organisational tips

• Use the Museum Guide Map to guide the students to the Surviving Australia exhibition on level 2 of the Museum.
• Advise students that there are five activities and each activity is located in a different section of the exhibition. • Activity 1 may be completed in a large group of up to 15 students. We suggest that half the class begins with Activity 1 while the other half completes this activity last after finishing Activities 2-5. Note that the Scientists’ Stories presented in the mini theatrette are shown in a fixed order, so there could be up to a 10-minute wait for the story on collecting insects.
• For Activities 2–5, organise the students to break into small groups. Each group should be given a different activity to start with then asked to rotate through the various activities in order to avoid overcrowding of the displays.

Ms Helen Wheeler , Education Project Officer
Last Updated:

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