Biodiversity Trail - Stage 3 Teacher Notes

This program is designed for students to explore one or all of the Dinosaurs, Surviving Australia and Birds and Insects exhibitions and complete clues. It provides an opportunity for students to learn about local and global biodiversity and how we interact with it in different ways.

Haswell's Froglet, Paracrinia haswelli

Haswell's Froglet, Paracrinia haswelli
Photographer: GA Hoye © Australian Museum

Before Your Visit

Syllabus links

The activities have major links with the New South Wales Science and Technology Syllabus. The Pre-visit activities and Post-visit activities outlined later in these Teacher Notes also have links with a range of other K-6 Syllabuses. These syllabus links are listed below.

Science and Technology
  • Living things: LTS3.3 Identifies describes and evaluates the interactions between living things and their effects on the environment.
  • Earth and its surroundings: ES S3.6 Recognises that the Earth is the source of most materials and resources, and describes phenomena and processes, both natural and human, that form and change the Earth over time.
  • Investigating: INV S3.7 Conducts their own investigations and makes judgements based on the results of observing, questioning, planning, predicting, testing, collecting, recording and analysing data, and drawing conclusions.
Human society and its environment


  • Patterns of Place and Location: ENS3.5 Demonstrates an understanding of the interconnectedness between Australia and global environments and how individuals and groups can act in an ecologically responsible manner.
  • Skills and Strategies: TS3.2 Interacts productively and with autonomy in pairs and groups of various sizes and composition, uses effective oral presentation skills and strategies and listens attentively.

Talk and Listening:

  • Talking and Listening: TS3.1 Communicates effectively for a range of purposes and with a variety of audiences to express well-developed, well-organized ideas dealing with more challenging topics.
  • Skills and Strategies:TS3.2 Interacts productively and with autonomy in pairs and groups of various sizes and composition, uses effective oral presentation skills and strategies and listens attentively.


  • Producing Skills: WS3.9 Produces a wide range of well-structured and well-presented literary and factual texts for a wide variety of purposes and audiences using increasingly challenging topics, ideas, issues and written language features.
  • Skills and Strategies:WS3.10 Uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar and punctuation to edit own writing, WS3.12 Produces texts in a fluent and legible style and uses computer technology to present these effectively in a variety of ways.
  • Context and Text: WS3.13 Critically analyses own texts in terms of how well they have been written, how effectively they present the subject matter and how they influence the reader.
Personal development, health and physical education
  • Communicating: COS3.3 Communicates confidently in a variety of situations.
  • Decision Making: DMS3.2 Makes informed decisions and accepts responsibility for consequences.
  • Interacting: INS3.3 Acts in ways that enhance the contribution of self and others in a range of cooperative situations.
  • Problem Resolving: SS3.5 Suggests, considers and selects appropriate alternatives when resolving problems.

Pre-visit Activities

To make the most of your visit to the Museum we recommend that you prepare your students beforehand by:

  • introducing concepts related to the main topics of the program using the suggested pre-visit classroom activities.
  • 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.
Classroom Activities

Introduce your students to biodiversity and some of the examples that students will find when they visit the Australian Museum. Aspects related to biodiversity are listed below and may be used as stimulus material for introductory discussions.

  • What is biodiversity and why is it important?
  • Australia’s unique biodiversity
  • The different ecosystems on Earth
  • Australia’s ecosystems
  • Which are the most diverse ecosystems?
  • Which are the most threatened ecosystems?
  • Food chains
  • Species concept
  • What are natural resources?
  • Where does the oxygen in the atmosphere come from?
  • The water cycle
  • Where does our food come from?
  • Which is the most diverse group of organisms?
  • Extreme habitats on Earth (for example, the arctic, oceanic trenches)
  • Organisms within the human body (for example, gut bacteria)
  • Evolution: how does biodiversity come about?
  • How do genes contribute to biodiversity?
  • Classification of living organisms
  • How scientists look for and find new species
  • How many species exist on Earth?
  • How many species do we still not know?
  • Loss of Biodiversity
  • Natural extinctions versus extinctions caused by human activities
  • Human activities that harm the environment
  • How to help the environment
  • Endangered species – global and local


Before visiting the Museum, the following materials should be photocopied for each supervising adult:

One, or a combination of the following materials should be photocopied for each group of students:

At the Australian Museum

On-site activities

The activities are based in three different exhibitions on Level 2 of the Museum: Surviving Australia, Dinosaurs and Birds and Insects. A set of clue cards is available for each of these exhibitions and teachers should choose any combination that best suits your students and your visit schedule. The clue cards contain information that students use to find specific animals or other living things in the exhibition displays.

Organisational tips
  • Use the Museum Guide Map to guide students to the exhibitions on Level 2 for the self-guided Biodiversity Trails where students can find answers to the clue cards.
  • Multi-class groups should divide and rotate between the various biodiversity experiences on Level 2.
  • We suggest that you also divide your students into groups of up to 5 to rotate through the various displays in the exhibitions spaces while looking for the Clue Card answers. This will help to avoid overcrowding of the displays.

Post-visit activities

After your visit to the Australian Museum, we suggest you choose one or more of the following activities for students to further investigate biodiversity.

a) Biodiversity in my backyard.
Working individually or in small groups, every student lists / draws / photographs the insects and plants found in their backyard and bring it to the class to compare. In small groups, group the insects and plants found in common. Which insects and plants are native to Australia?

b) Individually think about an animal you like. Do you know its habitat? Write five features of the animal that help it to live in that habitat.

c) Think about an ecosystem (for example, rainforest, desert, coral reef) and an animal you know that lives in that ecosystem. Imagine you had to tell a scientist the main characteristics of that animal, so they could identify it. What characteristics would you give? Would your list include information on the animal’s size, diet and colour or would other characteristics be important?

d) How close?
A great way to figure how living things are connected is by classifying them and working out their similarities and differences. Make a list of some organisms you remember from the Museum visit. Classify them in different groups by putting together those living things that have similar characteristics. Arrange the different groups by drawing your own idea of a tree of life.

e) Flowering plants can be visited and pollinated by insects or birds. Draw a short comic (about four frames long) or make a poster to tell a story of this process. Choose a flower and either a bird or an insect, to pollinate the flower in your comic.

f) Make a list of at least five products that we get:

  • directly from living things in nature (for example, apples and meat),
  • after changing or processing substances produced by living things (for example, penicillin, bread and yogurt).

g) Think about an organism or group of living things that could threaten human survival if it became extinct. Discuss in class (for example, plants).

h) Write down a cooking recipe. Try to figure out where all the ingredients come from. (for example, chocolate comes from the seeds of a plant and flour comes from the seeds of wheat plants).

i) Explore some home remedies to treat common aches (for example, a stomach ache or headache) that you or your family use at home. How many of those involve plants (for example, the coca plant is used in some headache remedies)? Choose one remedy and design a poster to advertise it and promote the remedy and the importance of the plant used in the remedy. Present it to the class.

j) Every day your body produces new skin cells and disposes of old ones. Did you know that microscopic living things help your body to dispose of old skin flakes by eating them? Find out about mites and write a short ‘Mite Fact Sheet’. Don’t forget to mention their size compared to a human and include an illustration.

k) Some living things can live in extreme conditions. Find an example of a living thing that survives in a weird habitat, in conditions no human could survive. Explain it to the class.

l) Insects are one of the most diverse groups of living things. Find out about:

  • some insects found only in Australia,
  • poisonous insects (for example, bees, wasps and ants) and learn why they are poisonous,
  • the oldest insects on Earth.

m) Bacteria are the most diverse group of organisms on Earth. Find out more about bacteria, especially the ones useful to us.

n) What is the weirdest and/or most amazing creature you think ever existed on Earth? Describe it to the class and explain why you think it is so amazing.

o) What do you think are the main reasons scientists still haven’t described all the species on Earth? Compare your answer with others in the class.

p) The Tasmanian Tiger became extinct many years ago. Have you heard about it? Did you see it in the Surviving Australia exhibition when you were at the Australian Museum? Do some research on the Tasmanian Tiger and write about the things you think may have contributed to its extinction.

q) Get involved.
You can help to conserve biodiversity either as part of a group or even just doing little things at home that can make a difference.

Environmental groups: Australia has many environmental programs that help conserve biodiversity directly or indirectly. Some of them are listed below. Find out more about them and how they can help you to make a difference.

  • Clean Up Australia Day
  • Bushcare
  • Environmental Education Programs with National Parks

Activities at home / school: In your daily life you can do some of the following things to help conserve habitats and biodiversity. Which of these can you do at home and/or at school?

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Turn-off lights when you are not using them
  • Save water
  • Buy environmentally friendly products
  • Plant a tree,
  • Plant Australian natives in your garden

r) Find out about a threatened plant or animal and present three facts about it to the class.

s) One of the Australia’s most endangered habitats is the Great Barrier Reef. Do you know where it is located? Write a short story about the Great Barrier Reef and its biodiversity.

Ms Helen Wheeler , Learning Services Operations Manager
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