Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students visualise themselves as MangroveWatch researchers and identify the range of considerations when planning to undertake research in the mangroves. They work independently to create a concept map to guide the planning of the investigation, including the type of data to collect and the methods for recording data, the resources and equipment needed, and the strategies for ensuring human safety and environmental protection.

This lesson is designed for a flipped classroom, where students learn new content in their own time. This strategy provides the opportunity for students to build their knowledge, attitudes and values by themselves, thereby freeing up class time for hands-on work. This lesson can be used to develop prior knowledge in preparation for the other lessons in this unit.

This lesson is part of a six-lesson unit of work. This unit can be used in sequence to prepare your students to participate in an investigation of mangroves in your local area as part of the MangroveWatch citizen science program.

The lessons in this unit have been developed in partnership with Earthwatch and  MangroveWatch. Earthwatch is a global not-for-profit organisation that uses citizen science to empower people to save the natural world, and works with all sectors to create a society that lives in balance with nature. MangroveWatch is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on the research, education and conservation of mangrove and tidal wetland environments globally.

Learning intention:

  • Students will understand why and how to incorporate a range of considerations when planning to undertake research in the mangroves.

21st century skills:

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementEmpathyEthical UnderstandingGlobal CitizenshipTeam Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 9 Science

  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176)
  • Plan, select and use appropriate investigation types, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data; assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods (ACSIS165)

Year 10 Science

  • The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence (ACSSU185)
  • Plan, select and use appropriate investigation types, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data; assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods (ACSIS199)

Year 11 and 12 Science – Biology

  • Design investigations, including the procedure/s to be followed, the materials required, and the type and amount of primary and/or secondary data to be collected; conduct risk assessments; and consider research ethics, including animal ethics (ACSBL002)
  • Biological classification systems reflect evolutionary relatedness between groups of organisms (ACSBL017)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-14LW, SC5-5WS, SC5-6WS.

General capabilities: Literacy, Personal and Social Capability.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.7, OI.9.

Relevant parts of Year 9 Science achievement standards: Students analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies, energy transfers and flows of matter. They design methods that include the control and accurate measurement of variables and systematic collection of data and describe how they considered ethics and safety.

Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students describe and analyse interactions and cycles within and between Earth’s spheres. They design and improve appropriate methods of investigation, including field work and laboratory experimentation. They explain how they have considered reliability, safety, fairness and ethical actions in their methods and identify where digital technologies can be used to enhance the quality of data. 

Year 11 and 12 Science students:

  • use science inquiry skills to design, conduct, evaluate and communicate investigations into biodiversity and flows of matter and energy in a range of ecosystems.

Topic: Biodiversity.

Unit of work: MangroveWatch – Years 9 to 12.

Time required: 120 minutes.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – a moderate level of scaffolding is provided to guide students through planning for fieldwork to include logistical arrangements, risk assessments, ethical considerations, location, and practising fieldwork skills for the collection of qualitative and quantitative data.

Resources required: 

  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student
  • Device/s capable of enabling students to work independently
  • Devices capable of presenting to the class: YouTube videos, instructions for long plot assessment, how to determine the height of a tree, practise salt marsh rapid assessment and guides/photographs for the identification of mangrove and salt marsh species
  • Equipment for practising skills including tape measures, inclinometers and height poles
  • Practise Rapid Assessment
  • Instructions For Defining Salt Marsh Values and Threats

Keywords: Latitude, longitude, geospatial technology, risk assessment, ethical considerations, qualitative, quantitative, primary sources, secondary sources, salt marsh ecosystems, mangrove ecosystems, threats and values of ecosystems.

Cool Australia, MangroveWatch and Earthwatch would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of The Protecting Wetlands for the Future Project in the development of these teaching resources. The Protecting Wetlands for the Future Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … understand why and how to incorporate a range of considerations when planning to undertake research in the mangroves.

Success Criteria: Students can…

  • … use online mapping tools to identify a MangroveWatch fieldwork site
  • … prepare a risk assessment to keep everyone safe during MangroveWatch fieldwork
  • … identify ethical considerations by planning to protect the environment during fieldwork
  • … prepare for the collection of qualitative data in the salt marsh rapid assessment
  • … practise recording fieldwork location features using Google MyMaps
  • … conduct an assessment of values and threats to salt marshes using secondary sources
  • … practise skills needed to collect quantitative data for a mangrove forest assessment.

Teacher content information: MangroveWatch is a citizen science program hosted by Earthwatch Australia and James Cook University. The MangroveWatch citizen science program provides tools, metho

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What do we need for a salt marsh assessment?

This worksheet has been broken down into six parts that you can work through at your own pace. Each section has an introductory inquiry question in its title to tune you into the content.

Part A. How can we use digital technology to conduct a site assessment for MangroveWatch?

In this section you will:

  • discuss a sample satellite image to review functions of Google MyMaps
  • use Google MyMaps to create a map to record MangroveWatch site/s
  • describe examples of geospatial technologies used for recording data about Australia’s mangroves

1. In preparation for conducting MangroveWatch research, maps are created that include the name of river or shoreline, nearby reserves, parks, streets as well as a site description and the latitude and longitude.

Using Google MyMaps you can add text, icons, photos and video.

You will now create your own site map. Follow these steps:

  1. Use your Google Account to log in to Google M
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