Teaching live from the bush makes history

Teaching live from the bush makes history

Science teacher Donna Azzi made history when a biodiversity research expedition she was with in Australia's Red Centre discovered a new species of scorpion.

The head science teacher at Sydney's Ashcroft High was one of only five Australian science teachers selected for a week-long Bush Blitz TeachLive pilot program as part of a professional work experience program.

"The first night we went up in the sand dunes and spotted a marbled scorpion, which glowed in the UV light. It was simply incredible," Ms Azzi said. "I'd never seen anything like it."

Creating history in the bush

"We found an undescribed juvenile species. That blew me away. I didn't think they were finding new species - I was part of creating history."

The Bush Blitz program coordinated by Earthwatch introduces teachers to the world of biodiversity research. The chosen five were flown to Henbury Station about 130 kilometres south of Alice Springs.

Over eight days they accompanied 15 scientists monitoring and tagging small mammals and reptiles. The teachers conducted botanical surveys, collected insects and caught spiders.

Teaching remotely

In between the field trips they went online to their classrooms to ‘teach live' what they had learned. They posted blogs, videos and held forums so students could also experience real science expeditions.

Back in the classroom Ms Azzi continued to draw on the experience as part of her lesson delivery.

"I tell my students there are so many different branches of science and they can get so much out of it. It's encouraging students to develop a love of science and to open their mind to career opportunities which is really vital for Australia," she said.

Photo: Donna Azzi with a tarantula. Photo supplied by Bush Blitz. 

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