Activity Introduction

Quick summary:  In this activity students get out into an ecosystem and record school yard biodiversity based on the sounds that they hear. The sounds can be recorded (e.g., on a tablet), or through drawings or brief explanatory notes. Students use their audio observation skills to identify the kind of activities occurring. They sort the sounds into natural and those are not natural. Students then interpret what they have heard as an indication of some aspects of the local biodiversity.

NOTE: Although this activity has been created in support of the ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic program you will not meet the data goals of the program through this activity. This activity has been created to give younger students – for whom the official biodiversity audit would be too complex – an opportunity to participate in the biodiversity component of the ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic program. To gain accreditation your school will still need to complete the more complex biodiversity audit. Consider using the AuSSI Biodiversity Upper Primary Audit.

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 1

  • Living things live in different places where their needs are met (ACSSU211)
  • Science involves asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events (ACSHE021)
  • People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022)

Science Year 2

  • Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)
  • People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE035)

Science Year 3

  • Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

Science Year 4

  • Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)
  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE062)

Syllabus OutcomesST1-4WS, ST1-9ES, ST1-10LW, ST1-11LW, ST2-10LW, ST2-11LW

Connecting lessons: Biodiversity audit.

Resources required: Outdoor habitat locations where students can sit undisturbed for a short period of time, clip boards, paper, pencils, camcorder or a sound reordering device, e.g., tablet (optional).

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.

Keywords: Biodiversity, ecosystem, conservation, audit, survey, species, weeds.

Need some more support? Click on these leading organisations




Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goals:

  • Students recognise there are a range of different native animals at their school.
  • Students understand that animals can be identified through the audio observation skills.
  • Students understand that there are a range of habitat types at their school.

Teacher content information: We often overlook or don’t even consider sound as being an important part of biodiversity. But can you imagine if there were no birds, and subsequently, no bird songs? What about if there were no bees? Or no wind whooshing through the pine trees? Ok, so no mozzies buzzing in your ears at night would be a bonus, but you know what we mean. 

By measuring using sound the number of animal species in the school, students can show the variation in biodiversity in different school ground habitats. Measuring biodiversity on school grounds can be confusing. It is important to build an understanding of which species are native to the area and which are uninvited g

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What is the difference between native and non-native animals? 

Head outside

You are going to spend a bit of time in nature just listening to the sounds around them. You will sit for a couple of minutes with your eyes closed.

Consider the following questions:

1. What can you hear?


2. Where do you think it’s from?


3. Who or what do you think is making the noise? 

Bringing it together: 1. On the wheel below, list the things you heard under each of the headings.

2. Around the outside the wheel, use the list of 'descriptive' words below to match with each heading on the wheel. The descriptive word can be written twice.

  • Annoying
  • Soft
  • Feel like in the bush
  • Feel like in the city
  • Enjoyable
  • Dangerous
  • Musical
  • Persistent
  • Gentle
  • Noise pollution
  • Angry
  • Excited
  • Friendly.


1. How much of the local sound was natural?

2. How much of the local sound wasn’t natural?

3. From the noises you heard, which did you like the best?

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