The whole Moreland Primary School community kicked off 2019 with a radical education project called Future Makers and the Merri Merri Creek. The project, coordinated by school parent Sarita Gálvez, began with a professional development day for all school staff, including two walks to Merri Creek led by Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC), and a guided talk at Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum.
Waterwatch activities can be easily adapted for Tertiary students. The range of Citzen Science monitoring we deliver include:
All monitoring is supervised by an accredited and trained Waterwatch Leader or Coordinator. Once monitoring is completed, the results, otherwise known as "data" is collated and uploaded onto various Citizen Science apps and databases so the data is available for the community.
Further information on Waterwatch monitoring:
Water Quality Monitoring (physical chemical parameters)
Water quality monitoring provides students with a fundamental understanding of waterway health, and as a result is a core activity of the Waterwatch program. Water quality monitoring involves the measurement of various physical and chemical properties, such as temperature, salinity, turbidity, acidity/alkalinity and nutrients. Students learn how these properties affect the health of rivers, creeks and wetlands, where they come from, and how we can minimise the impact we have upon our local waterways and the life they sustain.
When conducting water quality tests, it is important to understand why quality control is important and how to obtain the most accurate measurements; we call this QAQC - quality assurance quality control.
Depending on the age group of your students, we usually attempt to achieve secondary level QA/QC and then progress to tertiary level. Secondary level information is used by local government, schools and community groups as an indicative measure of waterway health in your local area, but if your group can attain tertiary level QA/QC the data you generate will be made available to catchment managers and will also be submitted to the Waterwatch Data portal.
Aquatic Macroinvertebrate sampling (Waterbugs)
Macroinvertebrate sampling is another important and extremely popular activity for students. It involves the sampling aquatic macroinvertebrates living in our rivers, creeks and wetlands. Macroinvertebrates are best sampled during spring and autumn, where students will have the opportunity to discover these wonderful and important lesser-known creatures. Macroinvertebrates are animals without backbones (invertebrates) that are ('macro') visible with the naked eye and include insects, worms, snails, crustaceans, water mites and more.
These aquatic ‘mini beasts’ play a significant role in the health of our local freshwater rivers, creeks and wetlands and are useful indicators of stream health. Macroinvertebrates form an important part of the food chain and are essential for a healthy ecosystem. Many of these aquatic invertebrates are sensitive to even quite mild pollutants or changes in water quality. By investigating the types of macroinvertebrates present in the stream, students can learn to identify macroinvertebrates to Order, and family level, by using classification keys and charts.
The diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates in the waterway enables students to determine a SIGNAL (Stream Index Grade Number Average Level) score, providing an indicative measure of the ecological health of the river, creek or wetland habitats being sampled. These results provide a snapshot of waterway condition, and help give the community and river health managers a broader understanding of waterway health.
The river environment, including both riparian (adjacent to the river itself) and aquatic zones, provides important habitat for many aquatic and terrestrial species, including fish, frogs, invertebrates, platypus, native water rats, and birds. Both in-stream and riparian habitat assessments are important Waterwatch activities and are a great way for students and community groups to gain an appreciation of the physical environment and how human activities can impact on river condition.
The Waterwatch Coordinator can train students to identify the main frogs within the Merri and Moonee Ponds catchments, and then use the Melbourne Water Frog Census app to record and upload frog census information. All data is then available for all users of the app and is also loaded periodically onto the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.
Litter surveys and Stormwater Education
Litter and other pollutants entering our waterways via the stormwater system is a major problem for the health of local waterways across the Port Phillip and Western Port Catchments. Litter, leaves, grass clippings, soil, cigarette butts, dog droppings, garden fertiliser, car washing detergent, petrol, oil and grease from roadways can all get washed into the stormwater system and end up polluting local waterways and eventually our bays and local beaches.
Waterwatch actively encourages the implementation of stormwater awareness and management programs across the region. Students can become actively involved in this program in a variety of ways. Drain stencilling and litter surveys (both in the school grounds, within the local neighbourhood, and down at the waterway) helps to educate the wider community and provides valuable information regarding pollutants entering our waterways via the stormwater system. Students are encouraged to discuss and develop strategies to address this issue and reduce the threat of stormwater litter. Students can work on source reduction plans using data collated through our litter citizen science program.
Other resources available to Tertiary Institutions
Australia’s gum trees can guide student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking entry for STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) as well as Law and Language. A three minute video - Gum tree learning: Inspiring primary educators to teach with Australian eucalypts produced by Merri Creek Management Committee provides teacher support for the cross-cultural curriculum priority (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures). Use it in the classroom and pause to focus on different elements.
These activities, projects and resources are suitable for Kindergarten up to Grade 2. Merri Creek Management Committee’s educators can link several activities in a session to explore a range of concepts.
We can come to your Kindergarten, Early Learning Centre or explore the amazing outdoor classroom near our waterways with interactive sessions that stimulate the imagination, promote active learning and are great fun. We call this Nature Play. Young children remind us about the simple and amazing wonders in nature all around us. Merri Creek Management Committee’s environmental educators guide free Nature Playtime in outdoor bushy places for two to five year-olds. We emphasise the children’s experience as we wander, pause, listen and slow down together and notice the bark, clouds and creatures around us.
For further information on environmental pedagogies and pre MCMC visit activities refer to our Early Childhood Teacher’s Water Education Manual.
Children are introduced to creek critters that call our local creeks home. This includes local animals such as the Rakali, Platypus, Sacred Kingfisher, the Short finned eel and many others. Children will meet a live Spotted Marsh frog and hear the sounds of frogs and local birds. This activity can be run as an incursion or excursion and teamed with Kingfisher on Kids, Story time with puppets, waterbug discovery and fascinating frogs.
There are many themes to explore with this activity including:
Frog activities include creating frog lifecycles (craft actvitiy), frog jumping activity, creating frog habitat and talking frogs (learn the calls of local frogs and play a game to try and remember them). Visit local wetlands to see where real frogs hang out or we can bring a live frog to your Kinder.
Use the five senses to thoughtfully observe and explore habitat values in outdoor settings. See tiny animals magnified, regard the tree canopy from below, using mirrors and binoculars, and consider the sound, smell and sensation of natural areas in a focussed way to stimulate appreciation and inquiry.
Children learn about creek life, consider the special adaptations of frogs and waterbugs and focus on features such as body shape. They use their observations to create similar creatures using a variety of natural and craft materials. This activity works well with Waterbug discovery and Five senses in the field. Critters can be made from materials found in nature and recycled materials.
Indigenous people have long recognised many values in local waterway plants for medicines and to make eel traps and baskets. In this activity children handle local waterway grasses and consider the traditions and heritage of the Wurundjeri-willam people.
Children take the roles of characters that live along Merri Creek in various parts of the landscape such as grasslands, farmed land and urban areas. Each character adds a different type of pollution (from grass clippings to oil) into a bowl of water representing the creek to see how human activity impacts water quality.
Learn about the community’s role to restore indigenous habitat through environmental restoration. Consider the impact on animals such as Sacred Kingfishers who visit Merri Creek in spring after a long journey from Indonesia. Create your own clip-on Kingfisher to take home.
Meet Duck, Rakali, Turtle and another special guest at the creek side in this engaging story aimed at Grade Prep and younger. Children will discuss which native animals live along Melbourne’s rivers, creeks and wetlands and how to identify them.
In nature or at Kinder our huge map of the Merri Creek catchment map brings home many messages about the nature of a catchment and provides an instructive tool for discussions with children about the environment, and animals that live on the Merri Creek.
Shine a light on local biodiversity and establish Kinder gardens using local indigenous plants of the Merri Creek catchment. We involve children, consider master plans, garden concepts and grant applications. Looking for inspiration? Come with us to visit other Kindergarten’s indigenous gardens.
For more information
Is there a charge?
Most programs and activities are offered free of charge as they are funded through a variety of sources (sessions not covered by funding can be charged to your Kindergarten or Early Learning Centre by arrangement). We look forward to hearing from you!
Inside: Led by MCMC staff, about 20 families got out of the January heatwave and into the cool of the Brunswick Library for the little kids to look at different local plants and make monoprints with them. Our Merri Creek Catchment Map helped everyone think more about where we are and how we're connected.
Outside: On another day, another place, we went out exploring the new wetland near the confluence of the Merri and Edgars Creeks in Coburg with members of Moreland Rotary. It was fantastic to stroll in the shade of the gum trees, walk around the wetland and enjoy the gorgeous habitat. The engineering is hidden, but it is great for us all to consider how this haven intercepts and treats polluted urban stormwater before it gets to our local creeks.