Home' Capricornus Quarterly : July 2012 Contents The students, who have garnered support
and attention from author Mem Fox,
Ergon and Channel 7 -- you can watch
some of their work on YouTube, (search
for Prep M Saving the Koalas) -- are eager
to adopt a koala and plant a small gum-
tree forest to feed Rockhampton Zoo
koalas. They have designed and produced
artwork as fridge magnets, bookmarks,
key rings, coasters and more to sell
because they want to raise money, too.
"This is nurturing their innate
curiosity about the natural world [and]
it fosters their understanding of the
connectedness among all living and non-
living things," adds Mrs Mehlhose.
Scenarios, such as this, in which
the students are allowed extend what
they already know to invent new
ideas is key to their development
according to ASTA s Peter Russo.
"It is a powerful way of getting students
to connect with their environment,
emotionally. It s topical. It s in the
community. And kids connect with it."
Former RGS student Laura Dunne,
now a rst year veterinary science student
at James Cook University, agrees.
"I found that it was better when we had
hands on contact with cattle, alpacas, and
Chicks a hit
We Pre-Kindy children care for
the Early Learning Centre s three
chickens. We enter the chicken
coop every day, count and collect
the eggs, clean out and top up
their food and water dishes and
spread fresh hay through the coop.
We also take turns patting and
holding them, and feeding them
grubs and worms that we nd
digging in the garden. We sing and
read books all about chickens.
As part of our extended learning we
were given an incubator to hatch
chicks. We learnt that the eggs
would take approximately 21 days
to hatch, so we set up a calendar
and crossed off each day until it got
to Friday 20th April, the scheduled
hatching day! On Sunday, two of
the eggs hatched, one baby black
chick and one baby yellow chick.
When we arrived Monday morning
we were very excited to see the
new arrivals and we also noticed
another egg had a crack in it. We
watched as the egg rolled around,
the cracks getting bigger and
bigger until nally a little, wet black
chick broke completely out of it s
egg. How lucky were we to get to
experience such a special moment!
We had six chicks altogether:
Flap, Dixie, Abbey, Matilda, Nemo
and Blacky. Our chicks are now
eight weeks old, and we care
for them, eagerly waiting for
them to lay their rst eggs!
horses. It s better than visualising. You
learned exactly how pregnancy testing
worked and it gave us good insight about
animals interactions with people," says Laura,
who grew up on a Dingo cattle property.
"They teach me compassion," she
explains from her workplace experience
assignment at the Alma Street
Veterinary Clinic (Rockhampton).
A student s learning experiences
and understanding through animals
can indeed be described as "deeper",
according to Agriculture Studies
Coordinator Desley Pidgeon.
Mrs Pidgeon, who directs the RGS
Show Cattle and Alpaca Teams, says her
students have a speci c purpose for nding
answers and learning more: they need
to apply it when many of them go back
home to work on their family properties.
"They re learning how to analyse and
interpret information and therefore
understand what is being learned rather than
just giving a correct answer from something
they ve read in a book," she explains.
Soon the School will commence an
arti cial insemination (Brahman)
program at the property.
"The students, starting from Year 8
and including a few children not off
the land, will reach in and do the work
themselves under the watchful eye of
nearby experts. To physically do it can
be daunting," says Mrs Pidgeon.
In addition they will help a male
alpaca with his rst few matings.
Instead of students producing one correct
answer to match one question, they discover
that there are usually different ways to
achieving a single outcome, according to
Mrs Pidgeon. It s that process, she says, which
results in a deeper level of understanding.
And that, says veteran science teacher Peter
Russo, is the holy grail for all teachers.
"If animals help students to become
involved, get passionate and drive their
own learning then you will have students
who become engaged in learning for life."
Early Learning Centre Photos Supplied
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