Plastic and politics: how bureaucracy is failing our forgotten wildlife

by frances 11. March 2013 19:43

I was reading an interesting article in The Conversation on the 8th March 2013: "Plastic and politics: how bureaucracy is failing our forgotten wildlife" by Jennifer Lavers [Monash University]. This article would make an excellent trigger for an Introduction in a WebQuest investigating the environment, ecology, North Pacific Gyre or Great Pacific Garbage Patch; plastics and their effect on marine life particularly birdlife. The statistics involved with the amount of plastic is staggering!

The target audience could be students in Years 9 - 12 or University students. The Perspectives could be: a Marine Biologist, a Fisher, a Bureaucrat, a Statistican, and/or a Representative of the UN.

The Conclusion could ask students to investigate the collection of plastics within their environment of school or university; the types of plastics present in their normal everyday activities; and, their chemistry and pollution aspects.

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NZ oil spill

by frances 12. October 2011 15:25

Last year in the blog entry, Oil Spills and WebQuests, I suggested that Oil Spills could be the subject of a good topic to investigate as an Ecological topic as a WebQuest. And they still are!

As a result of the recent NZ oil spill and an article "Oil spill captain appears in court" Oct.12 2011, a WebQuest could be developed on the maritime law around these events. "The charge under section 65 of the Maritime Act carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 fine or 12 months' prison." "Is this seen as reasonable?" could be the big question!

 

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Jindabyne Dam release brings silted Snowy back to life

by frances 10. October 2011 17:04

Jindabyne Dam release brings silted Snowy back to life is a wonderful stimulus article for an Introduction to a WebQuest! The roles could be:

1. An indigenous Australian from the local Ngarigo language group;
2. Aquatic Ecologist
3. A Farmer
4. A Government official from NSW
5. A Government official from the Commonwealth.

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Jessica Watson - Should parents allow their children to undertake such adventures

by frances 25. January 2011 18:52

Jessica Watson, the youngest Australian to circumnavigate the world, has inspired Australian teenagers and others! She has been awarded Young Australian of the Year!

Her parents were given a lot of criticism about their approval of Jessica being alone on her yacht, Pink Lady.

 

"JESSICA Watson's father Roger says it would be worse to deny his daughter permission to sail solo around the world than to lose her in the attempt." (Source: news.com.au)

This statement would make for an excellent statement to start an ethical WebQuest!

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Florence Nightingale

by frances 11. August 2010 21:05

I heard a great program today coming to work on Florence Nightingale (Rear Vision, 11th August 2010).

 

Florence Nightingale circa 1850: Photo - H. Lenthall, London (Wikimedia Commons)

This program was celebrating her life on the centenary of her death. What was interesting was the different ideas about what Florence Nightingale had achieved.

Professor Andrew Lambert, King's College, London, said: "I think like all eminent Victorians, to go back to Lytton Strachey's great debunking book of the 1920s, her reputation has gone from being absolutely iconic in the late Victorian-Edwardian era; at the time of her death she was one of the most famous people in the world. She was then viciously and systematically debunked and by the 1980s people were saying that she was just a power-crazed harridan who made the lives of everybody trying to do a job out there miserable, and in the interests of her own agenda. And we're now swinging back towards a more balanced position. But somebody like Florence Nightingale is always going to be of interest, and there will always be a debate: did she do good things? Did she achieve what she said she achieved? Indeed, did she achieve half the things that the newspapers claimed for her, or was she just somebody who happened to be in the right place at the right time? And I think that debate will go on because the results of her work in the Crimea are not absolutely clear-cut, it's not absolutely certain that she made a major difference. And the evidence of her own writings is that she was deeply dissatisfied with the consequences of her work in the Crimea, and pressed on for the rest of her life working in many ways to try and improve on that situation.
  
So was she the latter-day saint of late Victorian hagiography? No, certainly not. We have to see these people in the round. She was by no means perfect but she was one of the few people of that age who really did make a difference."

What a great WebQuest to create on this important historical figure!

If you want to explore the issues around Nursing in the Australian context, read up about Lucy Osburn (1835 - 1891) - this story also would make for a great WebQuest

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Oil Spills and WebQuests

by frances 31. May 2010 18:50

Back in May, A terrible year for Oil Spills (ABC, The Law Report) was covered. This is a great article as stimulus material for a WebQuest! The Law Report states "It has been a shocking 12 months for oil spills: the Gulf of Mexico and, much closer to home, the Great Barrier Reef, the Timor Sea and the coast off southern Queensland. When disaster strikes how well do American and Australian legal and regulatory systems respond?"

What an incisive big question!!!

 

Resources:

Videos of the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010.

Timeline: Gulf of Mexico oil spill

National Geographic: Daily News

2010 Great Barrier Reef oil spill

Oil Spill 2010: Disaster Recovery Plan Needed

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Teenage Opera & WebQuests

by frances 19. May 2010 15:57
This morning travelling home from Sydney (Australia), I was listening to the ABC Radio National's Bush Telegraph and their story about .... "Opera is normally associated with expensive tickets, overdressed patrons and foreign languages.

So when you give a group of teenagers 15 hours and a bunch of pens and paper, the last thing you'd expect is for them to write and compose their own opera.

About 80 teenagers in regional Victoria were given exactly that task, staging their own modern classic.

In this report: Murray Dahm, Project director of Wot Opera, Opera Australia" explains the project!

"WotOpera is an opera education initiative that provides secondary students from participating schools with the opportunity of creating an original opera and being involved in all aspects of its creation from conception through to performance. In 2010 the program will expand to include Bendigo, Sydney and Launceston. Twenty students from each school will participate in; character development, plot creation, writing the libretto, composing the music, casting, painting the backdrop, and performance." (Source: website)

What a great WebQuest this could be!!! And yes students can based their Opera on a TV Soap Opera but to date with this program, students have come up with interesting, varied and real life scenarios!

Teachers - don't leave it up to Opera Australia - have a go at creating a WebQuest based on the premise of Wot Opera and send it into Opera Australia! They would love a quality educational resource!  This will also expand the program to include your students and school instead of leaving it to the select few!!!

Resources:

Introduce children and teenagers to Opera - this link contains a big listing of different Operas to introduce students to through DVDs.

 

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests | In the Classroom

Bullying and the Courts

by frances 13. May 2010 15:28

Recently, I listened to an excellent radio report "Bullying and the Courts" (ABC, The Law Report). Go and have a look at the content of this program - it will astound you as teachers!

 

The reason I noted this program is that the contents would be a great scenario for a Professional Development WebQuest for Teachers by covering:

  • Duty of Care by schools and teachers - within the school yard - even years after the students have left the school 
  • Crimes compensation
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Laptop programs especially involving webcams

This "Law Report" would make a wonderful Introduction with the scenarios it portrays!

 

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Southern Ocean Sentinel & Climate Change

by frances 30. April 2010 17:32

Last night I watched the ABC's Catalyst programme  and the segment "Southern Ocean Sentinel" I was fascinated - firstly as a Science Teacher but also because of the evidence given for Climate Change.

"As well as a thermostat regulating our planet's current climate, scientists believe the Southern Ocean can be a sentinel, an early warning system, of climate tipping points to come. The entire ocean is changing, from the surface to the depths. When seawater freezes it leaves the salt behind. The resulting brine is super-cold, denser, saltier, and sinks to the bottom. That's why it's known as Antarctic Bottom Water. It drives a global current system called the Overturning Circulation." (Source: website)...."At the University of Tasmania, Donna Roberts and her team are searching for signs of ocean acidification. This is what she's looking for — tiny planktonic snails called pteropods. With shells the size of sand grains, they float using their foot like a wing, and catch plankton in nets made of mucus. Dr Donna Roberts "There are millions and billions of tonnes of pteropods in the Southern Ocean and in some regions, particularly the Ross Sea area, there is more pteropods per cubic metre than krill." Pteropods have a really, really fragile shell. All shells are made out of calcium carbonate but not all calcium carbonate is created equal. There's two types and the scientific names are calcite and aragonite.

NARRATION
When CO2 dissolves, it reacts with water to form carbonic acid and carbonate ions, which decreases the pH. Aragonite is more soluble, so any change in pH will affect the growth of aragonite shells first.

Dr Donna Roberts
Now, aragonite is actually in the shells of pteropods and in corals. So corals and pteropods are going to be at risk first if the ocean health and the ocean chemistry changes and it's changing because we're putting carbon dioxide into the water. We weigh the shells individually. Each shell will be about fifteen micrograms.

Mark Horstman
Fifteen millionths of a gram?

Dr Donna Roberts
Yes. I've probably weighed about a couple of hundred thousand shells. We're actually comparing shells from ten years ago to shells from today and what we find is that the shells of today are thirty five percent smaller and more fragile than they were ten years ago.

NARRATION
That means the pteropods of the Southern Ocean, and the food chains they underpin, may be living on borrowed time. Donna can calculate the CO2 levels when they'll basically run out of shell.

Dr Donna Roberts
The tipping point for pteropods in the southern ocean is four hundred and fifty parts per million and we are currently at three hundred and eighty eight so we're heading there rapidly and we, we think from models that we're going to get there in about the winter of 2030." (Source: website)

This would be a terrific report for students in Years 8 - 12 studying Ecology and Climate Change to view and would be a great resource for a scientist role within Climate Change WebQuest.

 

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Project Atlantica - What a WebQuest that would be!

by frances 8. April 2010 17:58

Have you heard of the Atlantica Expeditions?

What a great WebQuest this project would be!!!

The Atlantica Expedition is hoping to have an underwater human colony by 2015 - yes least than 5 years away! There are even members who are only 10 years old registered!!!

Future Tense (ABC Radio National - 29th April - "The League of New Worlds and the Atlantica Expedition") explored the topic with one of the crew for the first mission of the group - to live underwater for 90 days.

This information could be used for a WebQuest based on the environments of the planets and exploration.

The big questions could be: "Should the Atlantica Expedition go ahead?" Or "New Utopia underwater - is this possible?"  

 

 

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Other WebQuest & Educational Blogs

As I come across other WebQuest Blogs (& Educational ones), I will list them here.

Jane Hart's Blog (Jane is a Social Technologies Guru in UK)

Scot Aldred's Blog (Colleague at Central Queensland University and guru on Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

The Innovative Educator

Digital Education Blog

Blogging Corner Carnival

eLearn Magazine Blog

Dr. Lisa Neal Gualtieri, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine

Primary School.com.au Blog

Charlie Sullivan - Charlie does a fantastic job collating websites for Primary schools.

De Tools Blog

This blog by and for online educators and features free web based tools applications and resources. Author: John Goldsmith.

Bright Ideas: a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria

The Book Whisperer

This blog is written by Donalyn Miller, a 6th Grade teacher in Texas, who is reknown for encouraging students to read!

 

Clustr Map

Created WebQuests

Champions of Justice
Federator
Gold Force
Community Shopping Centre Planner
Can you get the party started?
Reminders of our moral conscience
The Petrov Affair
Careers
My Business Rules
Pluto's planetary status