Activity Introduction

black-swans-biodiversity-heroQuick summary: In this practical and hands-on activity students complete a biodiversity assessment of their school. They begin by creating definitions for habitat terms, and then calculate the habitat percentage cover of different cover types (tree cover, roof cover, soft surfaces/grass, and hard surfaces) using a map of the school grounds. Through authentic learning experiences students assess the schools natural resources and where there is opportunities for further actions. Students create a biodiversity improvement development plan.

This lesson can be used when working on the Biodiversity Module of ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic Certification. By completing this lesson you will have completed the following actions:

Biodiversity Checklist Compulsory Actions:

  • A1 – Have you completed biodiversity assessments for your school’s grounds, including the identification and recording of:
    • Indigenous/native plants and animal habitat quality e.g. trees, understorey, ground cover weeds and soil management?
    • Linkages of school vegetation and habitats with surrounding areas?
  • A1 – Has your Habitat Quality Assessment score been entered as your baseline data?

Checklist data goals:

  • To estimate a ‘habitat quality score’ as well as the percentage of different elements in the school ground e.g. percentage of school grounds covered by buildings, asphalt, oval/lawn etc.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Cross curriculum priorities

Sustainability OI.1 – The biosphere is a dynamic system providing conditions that sustain life on Earth. O1.2 -All life forms, including human life, are connected through ecosystems on which they depend for their wellbeing and survival.

General capabilities

Critical and creative thinking

Explicit content description 

Science Year 5

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)

Geography Year 5

  • Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary and secondary sources (ACHASSI095)
  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions (ACHASSI096)
  • Present ideas, findings, viewpoints and conclusions in a range of texts and modes that incorporate source materials, digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms and conventions (ACHASSI105)

Science Year 6

  • The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)

Geography Year 6

  • Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary and secondary sources (ACHASSI123)
  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions (ACHASSI124)
  • Present ideas, findings, viewpoints and conclusions in a range of texts and modes that incorporate source materials, digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms and conventions (ACHASSI133)

Syllabus OutcomesGE3-4ST3-10LW, ST3-11LW

Connecting lessons: Native animal identification – must be completed as a compulsory action.

Resources required: Internet access, student worksheet, maps of school grounds (from Google Maps), ruler, pencil, materials for making maps.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

There’s an app for that: 

  • Google Maps: Explore new places, discover local favourites, and navigate your world with Google Maps.
  • Field Guide to Victorian Fauna: Detailed descriptions of animals, maps of distribution, and endangered species status combine with stunning imagery and sounds to provide a valuable reference that can be used in urban, bush and coastal environments. 
  • The Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia: The foremost field guide to Australian birds with a comprehensive collection of bird calls.
  • Sea Life Victoria: An informative guide to over 200 of the marine animals that live in Australia’s southern habitats. The southern Australian coastline is known for its extraordinarily high number of unique species that are found nowhere else in the world.
  • Bunurong Marine National Park Field Guide: This app presents images and information on over 300 species of marine and coastal animals and plants that can commonly be seen in Bunurong Marine National Park and nearby waters.
  • Project Noah: Project Noah is the best way to share your wildlife encounters and help document our planet’s biodiversity.
  • Field Guide to Pest Animals of Australia: This app contains pest information, distribution maps, photos, animal calls, control information and resource links for 53 pest species.

Weed links:

 Keywords: Habitat, biodiversity, map, hectare, cover, percentages.

Need some more support? Click on these leading organisations



Teacher Worksheet

kookaburra-biodiversity-heroTeacher preparation:

Overarching learning goals:

  • Students understand that there are a range of habitats at their school.
  • Students understand how to use maps to calculate the percentage of cover types at their school.
  • Students recognise how their biodiversity at their school can be improved.
  • Students create action plans to address natural resource management issues and increase local biodiversity.

Teacher content information:

For information about biodiversity - what it is, where it is, how it helps us and what we are doing to protect it - read this short article.

See what other schools are doing by exploring a case study here.

Hot tips:

  1. Print out maps of your school using Flash Earth or Google Maps. Print one map for each group (or several to share amongst the class if working as a class), trying to keep the maps as large as possible. If the map provided by Google Maps is really out of date, ask your council if they have an up to date map.

  1. Students will
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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What percentage of your school is native habitat cover?

Step 1. Looking at the types of habitat cover at your school. Begin by calculating the percentage cover for the 4 types of surfaces based on how the water cycle works at your school. For example, water filtering into the ground (tree cover), water being captured in water tanks (roof), infiltrating (soft surfaces/ grass) and flowing into drains and creeks (hard surface). Record this information on the table below. Make sure it all adds up to 100%!

Table 1. Calculating the percentage of cover types at your school

Cover type Tally of squares Total number of squares Percentage
Tree cover
Roof cover
Playground/Hard surface
Grass cover


Now it's time to look at the habitat features of your school. Head outside to count and calculate these features, adding them to the table below.

Table 2. Calculating and identifying the number of habitat features at you

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