CASE STUDY
Nature connection trail

Age Groups: 7-13

Grant Name: 2018 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants

School: Noorat Primary School

Grant Sponsor: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Project Overview

Noorat is a small township in South-western Victoria, located approximately 200 km west of Melbourne. Students and teachers at Noorat Primary School were interested in researching, designing and constructing an interactive biodiversity and nature connection trail around the school. Essentially, the trail would serve as an outdoor classroom.

In late 2018, the school received a $2,332 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grant that enabled them to create their Interactive Biodiversity and Nature Connection Trail.

The trail now consists of a number of silhouette cut-outs of the students and environmentally relevant figures were placed at appropriate locations around the school. The interactive aspect of the project involved placing a heavy-duty outdoor label with a QR code on each silhouette. When the students scan the QR code, it poses a question for them to investigate or outlines an activity for them to do that relates to the local flora, fauna and other local environmentally significant themes.

To keep the trail and learning interesting and fresh, the QR codes will be updated with new questions and themes on an ongoing basis.

Environmental Outcomes

During the project, teachers talked with the 25 participating students about how they could complete this project sustainably through planning, the smart use of materials, minimising waste, recycling and reusing where possible.

This project resulted in the development of a fantastic, eye catching and interactive learning resource in the school that helps students and others from the wider community learn about and connect with local biodiversity and nature.

Students, teachers and volunteers will help maintain the trail as part of a weekly program.

Educational Outcomes

The project taught students the value and importance of biodiversity in their region and how local flora, fauna are impacted by changes in the landscape. Students determined the location for the nature trail and were involved in developing the interactive QR codes and interpretive signage along the trail. Through this project, students improved their environmental literacy, resource management skills and understanding about sustainability, geography and history.

The school connected with representatives from their local Indigenous community who came and taught the children about the local Indigenous culture and history and the significance of local flora, fauna and landscape in their culture. These learnings were incorporated into the project.

Community and Social Outcomes

This project involved input from both individuals and community groups. Engaging with other community stakeholders provided opportunities for the students to learn new skills and information.

The local Men’s Shed helped with the cut-out figures. Some of the cut-outs for the trail were installed outside the school in the Noorat Community Garden and in Lake Lolly to extend the project to the wider community and encourage others to come and see the rest of our project at the school. To help encourage good physical and mental health habits, the trail includes a number of health and wellbeing prompts

The students were also privileged to be educated on local Indigenous culture and knowledge of local native flora and fauna. This increased the students’ understanding of the natural environment and developed a connection with the local Indigenous community.

The students worked fantastically well as a team in a whole school collaborative effort, aided by the volunteer involvement of parents and grandparents. The school promoted their project within the local community to encourage other local residents and those from further afield to visit the school and learn about local biodiversity and nature.

Conclusion

The Interactive Biodiversity and Nature Connection Trail project enhanced the students’ understanding and practice of how regular opportunities to connect with nature can enhance physical and mental wellbeing.

Below are quotes from two Noorat Primary School students about what participating in this biodiversity project means to them:

“I liked that we learnt more about animals and fun facts about nature. Putting up the cut-outs for the trail helped teach us skills for life. Making the QR codes was an interesting way to share facts with others too.”  Nash, Grade 3

“It was fun painting the animals and birds on the cut-outs. Everyone worked together to make the nature trail. We all enjoyed it.”  Taylor, Grade 2