Biology Camp – 7 Days

An Intensive Excursion for Senior Students

For students studying biology, there is no better place to explore biodiversity and the interconnectedness of life than in Far North Queensland. The Wet Tropics and The Great Barrier Reef attract biologists from all over the world, and both sites boast endemic species found nowhere else on the planet. What we traditionally define as a “biology camp” actually transforms to a biology excursion.

Students travel to and evaluate five different ecosystems:  lowland tropical rainforest, dry sclerophyll forest, highland tropical rainforest, mangrove systems and coral reefs.

On this tour of Australia’s unique and biodiverse places, students discover endemic and endangered species, perform field techniques biologists do, and meet with researchers and scientists who are making a difference in the world.
Bring your students on a biology program that brings them out of the classroom and engages them in the natural world.

Areas of Learning:

  • Biology
  • Biodiversity
  • Wildlife
  • Ecology
  • Marine Science
  • Community Service


  • Participate in Eye on The Reef service project at The Great Barrier Reef
  • Ascend over the Daintree Rainforest in JCU’s canopy crane
  • Encounter endemic species in both the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics
  • Learn from an expert entomologist about bizarre bug behaviour
  • Perform water quality testing in three different ecosystems
  • Discover mangrove systems and their link to the reef
  • Tour James Cook University’s marine labs, mosquito research facility and herbarium
  • Look for nocturnal and crepuscular creatures during a spotlighting activity
  • Learn to fashion insect traps that allow observation of entomological diversity
  • Evaluate ecosystems using biologist’s tools

Benefits & Bonuses:

  • All accommodation, most meals, guides and transport to activities included
  • Risk assessment provided
  • Price Guarantee: price will not change once you sign up for your trip
  • Expert guides – not “bus drivers”
  • We cater to student special diets and swimming levels
  • Goodies! Water bottle, field guide, cloth shopping bag and rainforest plot adopted in your name
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN – This trip is fully customisable.  Ask us for details!
Day 1: Arrive, Intro to Biodiversity Talk and Crater Lakes NP

Day 1: Arrive, Intro to Biodiversity Talk and Crater Lakes NP

Arrival in Cairns: Welcome to Cairns! You are met at the airport by one of our staff and have an orientation and safety briefing. (Plan to arrive before 11 am)


World Heritage Wet Tropics–Intro to Biodiversity:  Before you encounter the rainforest, you first learn from an expert at the Wet Tropics Management Authority (WETMA) just what makes this region so special. Researchers, scientists and tourists alike come from all over the world to discover the supreme biodiversity in this World Heritage area, a region that came to be against all odds. You learn why this corner of Australia–with its jade mountains and lush emerald rainforests—is a geographical anomaly. By luck of shifting tectonic plates, the Wet Tropics earned the longest continually growing rainforest in the world.  Plants that ruled alongside dinosaurs still stand today. More than 100 animals are rare or threatened here and dozens of species live nowhere else in the world. Your expert discusses climate change protected area management and how different methods are used in the Wet Tropics.  You leave with insight about and appreciation of this globally significant area you are about to visit.   

Crater Lakes National Park: Later you visit Lake Eacham at Crater Lakes National Park, an ancient volcanic crater—or maar—now protected in a national park. You’ll look for Boyd’s Forest Dragons, turtles and birds of paradise, after which you can take a plunge in the cool clear waters of the crater.

Accommodation: You ascend to the Cairns Highlands where you arrive at your campground for the night in a peaceful park with a sparkling swimming pool.

Accommodation: Highlands Camping
Meals included: Lunch and Dinner

Photo credit: Dr. Martin Cohen

Day 2: Ecosystem Evaluation, Field Techniques and Comparison Study

Day 2: Ecosystem Evaluation, Field Techniques and Comparison Study

Ecosystem Evaluation  Rainforest: During this trip you perform three ecosystem evaluations to compare vegetation structure, health, ecological function and biodiversity. This morning you travel to one of the last remaining sections of endangered rainforest and duplicate field work that “normal” biologists do.

Field Guides: Field guides, 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics and 101 Plants of the Wet Tropics are yours to keep and give you a background about regional and endemic species.

Transects and Vegetation Profiles: Within this ecosystem you evaluate biodiversity along a transect using quadrats. You learn how to assess vegetation composition, structural complexity, canopy structure, and ground cover. You then sketch a vegetation profile after using field tools like a clinometer.

Leaf Classification: The next activity is designed to give you the skills to identify aspects of leaves and to determine dominant leaf categories and thus rainforest type. Being able to know what type of leaf you are looking at while in the field is vital to identify the species of tree and it can also be used to classify the type of rainforest that you’re in.

Biodiversity Site:  Next you ascend to 164 acres of private property that boasts a mosaic of ecosystems including riparian rainforest, open eucalyptus woodlands, melaleuca wetlands, billabongs and complex ecotones, and used as film location site by the BBC. This site is perfect for biology studies and for comparing ecosystem structures within a very short radius. Hosting you is an expert entomologist who has discovered five new species of glowworm and worked with famed naturalist David Attenborough.

Accommodation: You camp on the property 60 metres away from the gentle Rifle Creek. Although this is Aussie bush camping, creature comforts are available: toilets,  showers, fire circle, a refreshing swimming hole and an abundance of fresh locally grown food for delicious meals prepared on site. Tents and sleeping pads are provided.

Insect Activity and Making Light Traps: With your entomologist you review basic insect biology, see some examples of local insects, and reflect on the adaptations that help these animals to survive in their environment. Then you learn how to easily fashion an insect light trap as a way to catch and study the insects.

Accommodation: Bush Camping on Private Property
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3: Ecosystem Evaluation, Water Quality Measurements, Daintree Rainforest and Debate

Day 3: Ecosystem Evaluation, Water Quality Measurements, Daintree Rainforest and Debate

Ecosystem Evaluation Woodlands: This morning you continue your ecosystem evaluations, but the woodlands environment stands in stark contrast to the rainforest you evaluated yesterday.

Water Quality Measurements: With your guide you discover the language of water and what it says about the creatures that can survive in it. You take water quality measurements involving indicators like Ph, nitrate and phosphate levels. Testing for these elements may reveal the presence of fertilizers or biological extremes, which will also aid in your discussion about species survival rate and eutrophication.

Daintree Rainforest and Swim: Then you cross into the incomparable Daintree Rainforest, the jewel in the crown of the Wet Tropics. For biology students, this is an important area for study: this area of the country has the highest concentration of primitive flowering plant families in the world, Australia’s rarest mammal (the Murina florious bat) and 13 species of birds found nowhere else on earth. You enjoy a refreshing swim in a clear “croc-free” rainforest swimming hole.

Daintree Rainforest Observatory & Research Station: Next you arrive at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory, an eco-monitoring site and research station with wet and dry labs. It lies in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest, and claims the highest biodiversity of anywhere in Australia! You get a safety orientation and then a presentation about the significance of this rainforest and about the important research happening here.

Environmental Debate: Later you participate in a debate which focuses on issues of development and effects on biodiversity. Students are given background information and a summary of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about a major resort development proposed for Cairns and then given different roles to play of community members. This requires evaluating projected economic, social and environmental impacts as well as proposed sustainability efforts and then arguing for or against the development. This is a fun way for you to get involved with all sides of an environmental debate with a real-life example that has gained significant national media attention.

Accommodation: Your lodging for the night is in the brand-new facilities at the station. Rooms are single gender, four- and six-bed rooms.  These have access to a communal industrial kitchen, and an amenities block nearby provides laundry, bathroom and shower facilities.

Nocturnal Wildlife Spotlighting Activity: Tonight with your guide you can roam the rainforest to spot the Daintree’s elusive crepuscular and nocturnal creatures as they come to life as the sun sets. Your guide knows what signs to look for during this spotlighting exercise, and you may have a chance to meet the Northern Brown Bandicoot, Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo, or the striped possum as it leaps onto the rainforest’s giant fan palms.

Accommodation: Daintree Research Station
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4: Rainforest Canopy Crane & Ecosystem Evaluation, Mangroves Study and Reef Presentation

Day 4: Rainforest Canopy Crane & Ecosystem Evaluation, Mangroves Study and Reef Presentation

JCU Canopy Crane: The James Cook University research station is also home to a tower canopy crane. After a safety orientation, you climb into a suspended gondola with the crane operator. The crane then ascends over the rainforest canopy, and can swing 360 degrees, surveying 1 hectare of the incredible biodiversity that has earned the Daintree UNESCO World Heritage status. This research station is only 1 of 3 of its kind existing in the tropics. (Students must be at least 16 years old. Activity runs Monday-Friday only).

Ecosystem Evaluation Daintree Rainforest: While you wait your turn in the crane, you also divide into small groups and conduct an ecosystem evaluation of tropical lowland rainforest. Surrounding the research station, several trails traverse various elevations and rainforest growth at various stages of succession. These trails provide avenues for you to experience primary and secondary rainforest, rainforest reforestation, as well as a dynamic creek.

Water Quality Measurements: In the creek you continue with your water quality measurements, with which you can discover the presence of toxicants such as insecticides, herbicides and metals. These measurements provide you with information on what may be impacting freshwater systems.

Mangrove Biome and Boardwalk: Next you travel to a raised walkway which takes you through a natural and critical mangrove ecosystem which is the breeding ground for many important aquatic species. You learn how mangroves deal with a lot of salt in their diet, how they act as the baby nurseries of the marine world and why both humans and the reef rely on these complex systems.

Future of The Reef Talk: In the evening back in Cairns you attend a unique presentation on the future of the Great Barrier Reef.  Your marine naturalist teaches you the facts about the state of the reef, dispelling myths about bleaching and climate change, and relays the good, the bad and the ugly about reef tourism. During this talk, you learn the four key threats to the reef and how scientists are trying “assisted evolution” by breeding corals that are resistant to bleaching under higher temperatures.  Perhaps most importantly, you gain ten tips on how you yourselves can help save the reef and continue campaigning when you return home.

Accommodation: Your accommodation is at a comfortable hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. The hostel is committed to sustainability and even has their own herb garden for guests use! A lush swimming pool and spa, and large common areas, the hostel also features free internet in common areas and air conditioning in each room.

Accommodation:Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5: The Outer Great Barrier Reef: Snorkelling, Biology and Data Collection

Day 5: The Outer Great Barrier Reef: Snorkelling, Biology and Data Collection

Boat Ride to Reef: Your day begins with an air-conditioned catamaran ride to the outer Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World-Heritage site and one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet.  Your marine biologist presents what you are likely to see at the reef and introduces the Eye on the Reef program, which involves instruction on how to complete the Rapid Monitoring Survey.

Snorkeling and Data Collection: Upon arrival, you dock at a floating pontoon, and an underwater universe greets you. During a guided snorkel tour with your marine biologist, you can expect to see a rainbow of hard and soft corals, turtles, and a variety of fish species including butterfly fish, giant Maori Wrasse, parrot fish, and the ever-popular clown fish, also known as “Nemo”.

Data Collection & Service: Next you receive in-water training on how to conduct the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Rapid Monitoring Survey for the Eye on the Reef program. Your marine guide points out key features of the reef ecosystem, answer any questions, and conduct a practice survey with group. Then during a timed snorkel session, you record your underwater findings.  Your guide and waterproof slates help you identify a host of marine life and calculate benthic zone coverage. Most importantly, you look for signs of coral bleaching and coral predators which greatly affect the health of the reef.  Your data is then collected and contributes to the central reporting system used by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to manage the long term sustainability of this UNESCO World Heritage area.

Other Activities: Semi-submarine and glass bottom boat tours, underwater observatory, and marine life touch tank are all available for you to enjoy. The double-storey pontoon also has something that no one else does….. a long and fun slide that finishes in the waters of the reef. Lunch today is a tropical buffet served on the boat.

Field Guide & Sightings Ap: 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef, written by Dr. Martin Cohen, helps you to better understand the underwater world and is yours to keep.  Before the trip, we’ll also give you information about downloading an app with which you can log in sightings of reef fauna and flora and your data is then sent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Accommodation:Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6: James Cook University Biology Workshop, Herbarium and Mosquito Research Facility

Day 6: James Cook University Biology Workshop, Herbarium and Mosquito Research Facility

Biology Seminar: Today you head to James Cook University for a biology-focused workshop. JCU is Australia’s highest-ranked university in environmental science and offers marine biology studies not found anywhere else. Through a custom-designed interactive workshop today you have the opportunity to engage with world leading researchers and equipment.

Marine Labs & Aquarium:  Popular with film crews, the marine labs at JCU boast one of the world’s best sites for capturing marine creatures on camera.  Sophisticated  equipment placed in the tanks allows for observing and filming animal behaviour up close. Additionally, JCU’s unique circular tank allows for a simulated current and the careful study of jellyfish. You meet staff who are on the cutting edge of marine science research, learn how they “milk” fish for venom, and about the latest findings in the development of anti-venoms.

Venomous Creatures & Mangrove Biome: Here you meet unusual and deadly creatures such as sea horses, baby crocodiles, cone shells, the lethal chironex jellyfish, and the extremely rare lung fish, found in captivity only at JCU. The cast members of Finding Nemo live here too.  You also investigate a working model of a mangrove biome, an important tool for studying effects on water quality and salinity as well as climate change mitigation.

World Class Herbarium: Books upon books of pressed and preserved plant species decorate JCU’s Tropical Herbarium, where you are invited in as privileged guests.  The Herbarium is a biologist’s delight; it boasts over 160,000 specimens, cutting edge facilities for processing and curation, as well as research. Highlights include viewing the Spirit Room, do-it-yourself area for plant enthusiasts, and the very special specimens collected by Sir Joseph Banks aboard Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia.

State-of- the-Art Mosquito Research Facility: Next you step into a ‘green-house’ style laboratory designed to replicate the preferred Australian breeding ground of the mozzie!  You peer into microscopes to investigate larvae, and discover from scientists what experiments they are performing to control the spread of tropical diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria.  You also learn how volunteers offer themselves up as “meat” for science.

Back in Cairns after dinner you have a chance to explore the Night Markets to browse for souvenirs.

Accommodation:Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7: Optional Activities and Depart

Day 7: Optional Activities and Depart

After breakfast this morning you have free time for last-minute shopping or souvenir purchases.

If you leave later in the day, you can choose one of the following options:

Optional Urban Challenge: If you have an afternoon flight, you can choose to spend the morning souvenir shopping, swimming at the lagoon or participating in Small World Journeys’ Urban Challenge! (no extra cost)  The Urban Challenge is a fun team-building exercise that allows students to learn more about the history, nature, art and culture of Cairns.  Small group teams compete against time in this treasure hunt-type activity in Cairns central business district.  This is a popular activity for students and the winning team gets a prize!


Optional Service Project: Alternatively, you can participate in a service project for the homeless by making special bags for a local charity using upcycled materials (which helps them save money!) You then put it the bags food and hygiene items most needed by those living on the street.  Rosies Friends on The Street is a not-for-profit organisation that will then distribute the packs you make.  In addition, a representative from Rosies will speak to you about how members of the Cairns community become homeless, and how your gift will help. No worries if you aren’t the best at arts and crafts – the bags are easy to make, and you’ll feel good doing it too. Then you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight home.

Meals included:

Is this biology excursion too long or too short? Contact us for custom tour options that match your budget and objectives!

School Excursion Fees Include:

  • All activities as described in the itinerary
  • Cairns airport transfers
  • All transportation
  • Small World Journeys guide on Days 1,2, 3, 4 and 6
  • Marine Biologist on Day 5
  • University researchers and scientist talks
  • 1 night highlands camping at campground
  • 1 night bush camping
  • Tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads
  • 2 nights at a central Cairns hostel (6- share rooms with ensuite)*
  • 1 night JCU Research Station cabins (4-share single gender rooms with shared bathrooms)
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners
  • 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics field guide for each student
  • 101 Plants of the Wet Tropics field guide for each student
  • 101 Animals of the Great Barrier Reef field guide for each student
  • Coral adoption through Reef Restoration Foundation with updates on the progress of the coral
  • Mask, fins, snorkel and wetsuit hire
  • A Small World Journeys reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag
  • 5 metres square of Daintree rainforest adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue
  • Marine park taxes and levies

* Two private rooms (twin or triple) for teachers are included in the price of the trip. If additional rooms are required, a supplement of $138 AUD is incurred.  If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.

School Excursion Fees Exclude:

  • Airfare to Cairns
  • Personal expenses (phone, internet, laundry, etc.)

Land Cost to 31 March 2020

  • 15 + paying participants: $1668 AUD
  • 10-14 paying participants: $1720 AUD

(*add $50 pp for premium travel season between 15 June – 15 July)


All accommodation is included.  Two nights are spent camping in the highlands – but don’t worry! You have cozy tents, access to showers and comfy inflatable sleeping mats. In Cairns, you stay at a comfortable hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. The hostel is committed to sustainability and even has their own herb garden for guests use! A lush swimming pool and spa, and large common areas, the hostel also features free internet in common areas and air conditioning in each room. In the Daintree Rainforest, students stay at a beautifully designed modern rainforest research station. Lodging is  in single-gender quad share cabins with shower facilities and shared bathrooms.


All meals are included. You have a combination of restaurant and student-cooked meals (all food supplied). A typical breakfast is a selection of cereals, toast, juice and fruits; lunches are combinations of sandwiches and salads with fruits and a sweet, and dinners are a sample of BBQs, all-you-can-eat pasta and pizza, seafood treats and local favourites. Ask us about vegetarian, kosher and halal options.

Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.



  1. Read our Terms & Conditions and tell us you want to come.
  2. Pay a $200 AUD deposit for the group (not per person – just a flat $200 to secure your booking) via our payment page or by direct deposit/cheque.
  3. Receive a link from us to your special web page that has an electronic booking forms, waivers to e-sign, and more information about the trip.
  4. Have each student sign up via this link and pay you (the teacher) no later than 60 days prior to the trip. You then submit whole payment to us at 60 days.
  5. Enjoy your trip!

Question 1: What is the weather like in Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef?

Answer: Cairns is a tropical place, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. In our winter (June-August), the climate is at its most mild, with warm days, cool nights, and little rainfall. Average temperatures are 18-26 degrees Celsius/64-78 degrees Fahrenheit. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. You can expect hot days with occasional tropical storms, producing lush green hillsides and plenty of waterfalls. Average temperatures are 23-31 degrees Celsius/73-87 Fahrenheit. In the autumn (March - May) the weather is more unpredictable: some days it can be warm and rainy, other days hot and humid. September - October tends to be the nicest time of the year - warm to hot days with little chance of rainfall.  

Question 2: What will we eat whilst on tour?

Answer: We understand how important food is to young people – and heaps of it! A typical breakfast will be a continental breakfast including juices, cereals, toast & jams (and optional vegemite!) and a typical packed lunch will be a meat and salad sandwich, drink, chips, biscuits and a piece of fresh fruit. Café lunches and restaurant dinners will vary, such as pastas, pizzas, steak and salad, but we place a big emphasis on variety and healthful options. One night we have a typical Aussie BBQ and other nights we eat in restaurants. Best of all, we carry our snack box when we travel to ensure that no one is ever hungry.

Question 3: Do we need to worry about jellyfish?

Answer: The box jellyfish are present in the northern coastal waters from November to April/May. The jellyfish are found close to shore—they breed in estuaries and very very rarely can they make it to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Most of the swimming beaches have “stinger nets” up during this season so people can swim. However, the tiny Irukandji jellyfish has been known on occasion to slip through the nets, and this is most often where people have been stung. It is a very painful sting, but there have been only 2 confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji jellyfish. The good news is that the jellyfish are rarely found at the outer Great Barrier Reef, where you will be snorkeling and/or diving. Most people swim on the reef without using any protection. According to the CRC Reef Research Centre, “In offshore waters around coral reefs, box jellyfish that cause Irukandji syndrome are usually well dispersed and the incidence of stings is very small.” Nonetheless, reef operators have “stinger suits” as well as wetsuits as an extra precaution.

Question 4: What is your safety record?

Answer: Our safety record is outstanding. Please ask us for teacher/supervisor references specifically regarding our safety measures and practices.  We do risk assessments for every excursion we run. We carry a first aid kit in our vehicles, as well as on the guide's person when in remote areas.  All guides are certified in first aid and CPR.  We give every student  a card with emergency numbers and safety information on it to carry, and we review safety measures as part of our orientation. Safety is absolutely our number one concern at all times. We do everything in our power to make sure each trip is as safe as it can possibly be.

Question 5: Do you do risk assessments?

Answer: Yes. We evaluate and re-evaluate the safety of each of our destinations and activities, and we always reserve the right to modify or cancel an itinerary if the guide feels that conditions are unsafe. We will gladly provide a risk management assessment specific to your trip on request. Small World Journeys' staff also adhere to a comprehensive Risk Management Strategy.

Question 6: Why should we purchase travel insurance?

Answer: We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance for your protection. Should a participant need to cancel their trip for any reason, our cancellation policy applies. However, travel insurance protects any loss they may experience should s/he or an immediate family member become ill or sustain an injury that prevents them from going on the trip.

Question 7: What makes Small World Journeys "eco-friendly"?

Answer: An eco tour, in our opinion, is a trip in which everyone benefits: the community, the environment, you and us. Simply by joining one of our trips, you will be supporting carbon offsetting, Rainforest Rescue's Adopt-A-Square initiative, aboriginal cultural ventures and locally-owned businesses who are working towards a more sustainable future in tourism. As our guest, you are supporting us as well. Thank you! For more information, see 10 Ways We're ''Sustainable''.

Question 8: How does Small World Journeys incorporate our educational objectives?

Answer: We work directly with the teacher organiser or group leader to understand the goals of the trip. Then we suggest activities and learning opportunities to match these objectives. For example, a group may be interested in learning more about marine biology. In this case we will facilitate some fun classroom time dedicated to marine science in Cairns, then a couple of days at the Great Barrier Reef with our marine biologist guide. We can include such things as waterproof fish and coral ID cards for each student, and mini-lectures after snorkel time. A SCUBA certification course may also be appropriate. Alternatively, we might suggest a few days at an island research station, during which students have classroom and snorkel time, as well as a service project monitoring coral bleaching on the reef. Whether it is marine science, aboriginal culture, rainforest ecology or another topic, we will work with each group to ensure an educational yet fun experience for all.

Question 9: What kind of insurance do you have in place?

Answer: Small World Journeys has public liability insurance up to $20,000,000 and is required for us to maintain our commercial permits for the national parks.

Question 10: What qualifications do your guides have?

Answer: Our guides have a government-issued approval that is only given after an extensive background check, and allows them the ability to work with children. Guides also have a Senior First Aid and CPR certification and government-issued Driver's Authority if they are driving a vehicle. Many of our educational adventures guides have higher degrees in environmental science, marine biology or experiential education, and there is one thing which unites them: a love for teaching young people about the outdoors.

Educational Outcomes for Queensland Biology Camp

Australian National Curriculum – Science

While this student excursion to North Queensland caters to Year 11 & 12 biology students (Biodiversity and the Interconnectedness of Life), its delivery can be tailored to science students in junior years studying the Australian National Curriculum.

Students will be involved with extensive field work, data collection, measurements, analysis, and enquiry.  Activities and lectures are designed to inspire discussion and debate, including a real-life debate on a controversial local issue.

On this biology camp, teachers can tick all of the curriculum boxes, so to speak, on the list below.

Years 11 & 12 Senior Biology Unit 1: Biodiversity and the Interconnectedness of Life

Science Inquiry Skills

  • ACSBL003 Conduct investigations, including using ecosystem surveying techniques, safely, competently and methodically for the collection of valid and reliable data
  • ACSBL006 Select, construct and use appropriate representations, including classification keys, food webs and biomass pyramids, to communicate conceptual understanding, solve problems and make predictions

Science as a Human Endeavour

  • ACSBL009 Development of complex models and/or theories often requires a wide range of evidence from multiple individuals and across disciplines
  • ACSBL010 Advances in science understanding in one field can influence other areas of science, technology and engineering
  • ACSBL011 The use of scientific knowledge is influenced by social, economic, cultural and ethical considerations
  • ACSBL013 Scientific knowledge can enable scientists to offer valid explanations and make reliable predictions
  • ACSBL014 Scientific knowledge can be used to develop and evaluate projected economic, social and environmental impacts and to design action for sustainability

Science as a Human Endeavour- Describing Biodiversity

  • ACSBL015 Biodiversity includes the diversity of species and ecosystems; measures of biodiversity rely on classification and are used to make comparisons across spatial and temporal scales
  • CSBL016 Biological classification is hierarchical and based on different levels of similarity of physical features, methods of reproduction and molecular sequences
  • ACSBL017 Biological classification systems reflect evolutionary relatedness between groups of organisms
  • ACSBL019 Ecosystems are diverse, composed of varied habitats and can be described in terms of their component species, species interactions and the abiotic factors that make up the environment
  • ACSBL020 Relationships and interactions between species in ecosystems include predation, competition, symbiosis and disease

Science as a Human Endeavour- Ecosystem Dynamics

  • ACSBL022 The biotic components of an ecosystem transfer and transform energy originating primarily from the sun to produce biomass, and interact with abiotic components to facilitate biogeochemical cycling, including carbon and nitrogen cycling; these interactions can be represented using food webs, biomass pyramids, water and nutrient cycles
  • ACSBL023 Species or populations, including those of microorganisms, fill specific ecological niches; the competitive exclusion principle postulates that no two species can occupy the same niche in the same environment for an extended period of time
  • ACSBL024 Keystone species play a critical role in maintaining the structure of the community; the impact of a reduction in numbers or the disappearance of keystone species on an ecosystem is greater than would be expected based on their relative abundance or total biomass
  • ACSBL025 Ecosystems have carrying capacities that limit the number of organisms (within populations) they support, and can be impacted by changes to abiotic and biotic factors, including climate events
  • ACSBL026 Ecological succession involves changes in the populations of species present in a habitat; these changes impact the abiotic and biotic interactions in the community, which in turn influence further changes in the species present and their population size
  • ACSBL027 Ecosystems can change dramatically over time; the fossil record and sedimentary rock characteristics provide evidence of past ecosystems and changes in biotic and abiotic components
  • ACSBL028 Human activities (for example, over-exploitation, habitat destruction, monocultures, pollution) can reduce biodiversity and can impact on the magnitude, duration and speed of ecosystem change
  • ACSBL029 Models of ecosystem interactions (for example, food webs, successional models) can be used to predict the impact of change and are based on interpretation of and extrapolation from sample data (for example, data derived from ecosystem surveying techniques); the reliability of the model is determined by the representativeness of the sampling

Every activity is in line with the Australian National Curriculum – Biodiversity and the Interconnectedness of Life.   For a complete list of curriculum outcomes matched with each specific activity, contact us!

How your trip supports the community

SUPPORTING  INDIGENOUS CULTURE: We acknowledge  Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People as the first inhabitants of Australia and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where we work and our groups travel. Your trip includes activities and interaction with local Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the land on which you are traveling. By taking this trip, you are supporting grassroots indigenous tourism ventures and encouraging Aboriginal pride in culture. It is our policy to include a talk or an activity with an Aboriginal person on every trip we offer. We are proud to say that in the financial year of 2017-18, we gave over $34,000 in business to Aboriginal-owned ventures. Additionally, our new student community service project involves students in making “Moon Sick Care Bags” which supply re-usable sanitary products to Aboriginal women in remote communities — this helps both Indigenous women AND the environment! (Ask us how your group can do this on their tour)

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES: On this educational tour, we use locally owned accommodation, restaurants, and suppliers whenever possible to keep income in the community. This includes supporting farmers by purchasing locally-grown fruits and vegetables for you on your trip. We also give you a list of where to buy locally-made crafts and souvenirs so you can continue this support as well.  In 2017-18, three quarters of our expenses were paid back into the local economy.

SUPPORTING LOCAL HOMELESS & NEEDY PEOPLE: We make both financial and in-kind donations to Rosie’s Friends on The Street, a Cairns-based charity. Rosie’s seeks to provide homeless people and people living rough a hot meal, conversation and a non-judgemental human connection.  Small World Journeys’ staff also volunteer on Rosie’s outreach nights, and many of our students have made comfort packs for Rosie’s patrons! For more information on Rosie’s and other organisations to which we donate, see Philanthropy and Partnerships or ask us how you can incorporate community service with Rosie’s into your educational excursion.

How your trip is “Eco-friendly”

HELPING THE REEF: In addition to the coral tree we sponsor, we pay to “adopt” coral at Fitzroy Island through our partner Reef Restoration Foundation.  The coral propagation happening there is unprecedented and is being celebrated as a significant project to help save the reef. Each of our groups that visit the reef receives a certificate on the tour and later receive updates on the coral.

ADOPTING A RAINFOREST PLOT IN YOUR NAME: We pay to have a 5-square metre plot of rainforest is adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue. On your excursion, your group will be presented with a certificate detailing the significance of this gift to the environment.

REDUCING WASTE: We give you your own water bottle and cloth shopping bag to eliminate the need for disposable bottles and plastic bags. By reducing our need for plastic bags and bottles, we avoid having these things go into landfills or into the tummies of our native animals. We also recycle BOTH our hard plastics and soft plastics, and our trip snack wrappers get broken down and made into other things! For more information on how we donate to The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and other environmental groups, see Philanthropy and Partnership.

OUR OFFICE IS RUN ON SOLAR POWER: Our future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.

CARBON OFFSETTING: We calculate our company’s carbon emissions. Then we pay Sustainable Travel International (STI) to offset your emissions by investing in environmental and community-based projects. In 2018 we offset 76.72 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide! For more information about our carbon offsetting, see 10 Ways We’re ”Sustainable”.

How your trip is safety-oriented

REFERENCES:  We have had hundreds of students travel with us, and our safety record is excellent.  Ask us for teacher references specifically regarding safety.

VEHICLES: All of our vehicles are equipped with seatbelts for every seat. While this is not a Queensland law, we feel your safety is a priority.  Our guides do safety checks at the start of each day of the trip. In addition, vehicles go through a Department of Transport safety inspection every six months.

RISK ASSESSMENT: We do a risk assessment for every student tour we run. That risk assessment then gets sent to the organising teacher. We have safety protocols for our activities and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual that documents these protocols. We also have a complete Crisis Management Plan. In addition, students are given a safety briefing during orientation that addresses hazards and risks for this region.

GUIDES AND SAFETY: Small World Journeys’ guides hold current Senior First Aid and CPR certificates, along with government-issued Driver’s Authority and Working With Children cards (also known as a Blue Card). Some hold lifeguard and/or Bronze medallion certifications as well. For more information on our guides, see The Small World Journeys Team.