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Information for secondary schools visiting the Marine Discovery Centre

The d’Entrecasteaux Channel is a varied, sheltered and safe waterway with uninhabited islands, an interesting history and fascinating marine ecology.  Weather permitting all Secondary students spend part of their day on our 13.5m research vessel Penghana.  The RV Penghana makes an excellent safe, floating classroom. It is well equipped with up-to-date navigation and sampling equipment. Secondary programs are designed for a maximum class size of 32 students.  Space on the RV Penghana is limited so classes over 16 are split into two groups with each group spending half their day on activities in the Centre and half on the water.  If the class needs to be split the Visiting Teacher works with their students on activities around the Centre. Both Day and Extended programs are available for Secondary students.

Day Programs

Duration: We are happy to work with classes anytime between 9.00 am and 3.00 pm. Arrival and departure times vary depending on how long the bus takes from your school to the Centre. Bus times from Hobart are usually at least 45mins.

A typical secondary day for 16 or less students:

9.30 – 10.30: Tour of the Centre& Introduction to Focus

10.30: Morning tea

10.45 – 11.15: Centre Research- students work in pairs on two activities related to focus e.g., Biodiversity audit and Marine Habitats

11.15: Students prepare to go to sea

11.30 – 2.15: Sampling the benthic biodiversity at a number of sites from RV Penghana and measuring the Abiotic conditions; (Dissolved O2, temperature, salinity etc.) - Includes lunch

2.15 – 2.30: Return to centre with samples and data and debrief.

If the class is bigger than 16 students it will run the same up to Morning Tea at which stage the students will be split into 2 groups. Each group will spend half the rest of the day at sea and half in the Centre with a swap at lunch time.

Activities on the RV Penghana

Whilst out on the R.V. Penghana students work in groups to collect and compare information from a number of sites with varying depths, varying exposure to environmental conditions or varying degrees of human influence. The boat is equipped to collect data about:




•Dissolved oxygen levels

•Weather conditions

•Sediment types

•Benthic populations

We are also able to take small groups (16 students) to Snake Island to study foreshore populations.

Focus Topics

(Choose a full day or two half-day programs)

Note: The Australian Curriculum links are listed in Year groups at the end of the program descriptions.

Full Day programs

Sustainable fisheries  Yr. 7— 8

By practical activities in the Centre and at sea students explore different fishing techniques, how to be safe at sea and find out about past and current fisheries management practices. Students discuss the need for sustainable management of our recreational and commercial fisheries as well as the role of science in this decision-making.

Navigating at Sea (max 16 students)  Yr. 7— 8

Students study the unique features of navigational charts, learn how to plot their position on a chart and convert compass bearings to true bearings. They will plot a course on the chart and then go to sea and steer the RV Penghana along it. They will also see how to use our navigational equipment in the wheelhouse including GPS, digital chart plotter and 3D seabed mapper.

Aquaculture in the Channel  Yr. 7—10

Students will study a range of aquaculture techniques used for different species in Tasmania. They undertake oceanographic and biodiversity sampling close to and far away from a salmon lease and discuss methods that the aquaculture industry can take to ensure the sustainability of the industry and the marine environment.

Human Impact  Yr. 8—12

Students learn about the uniqueness of the South East Marine Bioregion and the impact of introduced species, overfishing, pollution and ecotourism; which species are threatened and the need for marine protected areas. Students gain practical experience in identifying introduced species, and the techniques scientists use to monitor the marine environment and assess possible impacts.

Foreshore Ecology  (max 20 students)  Yr. 11—12

Students undertake foreshore transects and quadrat sampling on Snake Island, examining adaptations, biodiversity and human impacts, including introduced and invasive species. This program is dependent on favorable tides.

Special Needs Program  Yr. 7-12

This program is designed to give students with disabilities or special needs “hand’s on” experiences in a marine environment. It may include animal identification, touch pond activities and the opportunity to line fish from the RV Penghana, as well as offering some boat handling experience to interested students.

Cross-curricular Experiences

English Creative Writing or Persuasive Writing stimulus: Students are invited to investigate a marine environment, both around the Centre and on board the RV Penghana and use this as a stimulus for poetry or narrative writing.  Persuasive writing techniques could be used to debate a wide range of marine issues, such as the value of Marine Protected Areas, effects of climate change on the oceans or sustainable fishing options.

Geography: - A range of key focus areas can be covered while studying a marine environment. AC Content descriptions from Year 7 to Year 10 are listed at the end of this document, along with examples of activities that can be done at the Centre which illustrate the key concepts such as “the capacity of the world’s environments to sustainably feed the projected future population to achieve food security for Australia and the world”.

Half-day Programs:

(Join 2 of these topics together to make a full program)

Food from the Sea  Yr. 7— 8

Examine commercial and recreational fisheries around Tasmania and how we use the products from the sea not only for food but in medicines, sun cream, aquaculture food and fertilizers.

Feeding Relationships  Yr. 7—10

Who eats who in the sea? This program looks at feeding adaptations, food chains and webs in the sea and the role of micro plankton.

Sex in the sea  Yr. 7—10

Students study life cycles and the reproductive strategies that different animals use to ensure their species’ survival in the sea.

Biodiversity in a Cool Temperate Marine Environment  Yr. 7—12

Students explore the huge biodiversity of the South East Marine Bioregion through examining marine vertebrates and invertebrates in the aquaria and on the seabed in the d’Entrecasteaux Channel. They look at the adaptations these animals have to ensure their survival in the sea.  We discuss the importance of Tasmania’s proximity to the Southern Ocean and explore environmentally sustainable practices which will help preserve this unique marine environment.

Marine Habitats  Yr. 8—12

Discover the animals and plants that live in a number of different marine habitats such as sea grass beds, kelp forests, around coastal structures, on rocky foreshores, out in the open sea and down in the deep, and their adaptations for survival.

Ocean currents  Yr. 9—12

Climate, plankton distribution and animal migration are all influenced by the ocean currents. Look at what causes currents, study the major currents around Australia as well as some of the organisms that rely on them for their distribution.

Climate Change  Yr. 9—12

What is the science behind the debate? How do scientists study the sea? Why is a study of the ocean and in particular the Southern Ocean, so important to understand the changes we are experiencing globally? What are the potential impacts of Climate Change on the sea around Tasmania and what are some of the creative solutions.

Extended Programs

Marine Ecology- Year 9/10

Duration: 4 days

Limit: 20 students

This program is designed to immerse students in practical experiences and conduct research in a wide range of marine issues. Each day, students spend time around the Centre as well as collecting oceanographic and biodiversity data at a number of sites in the d’Entrecasteaux Channel from the RV Penghana.

As well as spending a lot of time in the field students may take part in role plays, design experiments, and prepare species profiles or scientific posters.

During each program we arrange for a scientist from one of our national or state research facilities (CSIRO, AAD, TAFI, UTAS and IMAS) to spend time with the students, explaining their own research as well as helping them to understand the data the students have collected in the Channel.

Motor Boat Licence

Duration: 3 days

Limit: 8 students

Our skipper is accredited by Marine & Safety Tasmania to give practical and theory lessons leading to a Motor Boat Licence. Our skipper is also an accredited examiner of the MAST Motor Boat Licence Test and so on completion of the course students are able to sit the Licence Test at the Centre.

We also have strong links with research and industry facilities such as: CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Aquaculture & Fisheries Institute, the Australian Antarctic Division, the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.

Australian Curriculum Links

Science Understanding:

Year 7:

There are differences within and between groups of organisms: classification (ACSSU111)

activity Interactions between organisms can be described in terms of food chains and food webs; human can affect these interactions (ACSSU112)

Predictable phenomena on earth are caused by the relative positions of the sun, earth and moon. (ACSSU115). E.g. Tides and seasonal differences

Some of earth’s resources are renewable, but others are non-renewable (ACSSU116) E.g.  Sustainable fisheries.

Water is an important resource that cycles through the environment (ACSSU222) E.g. Water cycle; is desalination an appropriate or sustainable answer to water shortages?  Issues?

Year 8:

Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs that carry out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce (ACSSU150) – e.g. gills, swim bladders, kidneys etc.

Earth science processes (ACSSU153) –e.g. Geology of marine environments vital for sea life and climate.

Energy appears in different forms including kinetic, heat and potential energy and causes change within systems. (ACSSU155) – E.g. weather, climate change, extreme events.

Year 9:

Multi-cellular organisms rely on coordinated and interdependent internal systems to respond to changes to their environment (ACSSU175) –E.g. adaptions of marine life to changes in abiotic factors.

Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment: matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176). E.g. examining different marine habitats and communities from the RV Penghana.

Year 10:

The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence (ACSSU185). E.g. Marine invertebrates are an outstanding demonstration of diversity of living things; natural selection and adaptations.

Different types of chemical reactions are used to produce a range of products and can occur at different rates (ACSSU187). E.g. Elements comprising seawater – so compatible with life; chemical reactions in animal bodies allowing them to adapt to almost every niche.

Global systems, including the carbon cycle, rely on interactions involving the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. (ACSSU189) E.g. effect of phytoplankton on the atmosphere; relationship between the ocean and the atmospheric layers.

Energy conservation in a system can be explained by describing energy transfers and transformations. (ACSSU190). E.g. Transfer of energy through food webs; Life-cycles etc.

The motion of objects can be described and predicted using the laws of physics (ACSSU229).

E.g. Ocean currents, gyres, movement of human detritus throughout global oceans.

Science as a Human Endeavour

Year 7 & 8:

Scientific discoveries can significantly change people’s understanding of the world (ACSHE119) – e.g. debates on Climate Change and Marine protected areas (MPA’s)

Science and technology contribute to finding solutions – these may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations (ACSHE120) (ACSHE135) e.g. aquaculture.

Science understanding influences the development of practices in areas of human activity such as industry, agriculture and marine and terrestrial resource management (ACSHE121)

People use understanding and skills from across the disciplines of science in their occupations (ACSHE224) (ACSHE227). Scientists working in collaboration with commercial fishers and aquaculturists to develop safer and more sustainable fishing techniques.

Year 9 & 10

People can use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they should accept claims, explanations or predictions (ACSHE160) (ACSHE194) E.g. Where do you get your information from?  Redmap, web, MDC, apps? Etc.

Advances in sciences and emerging sciences and technologies can significantly affect people’s lives, including generating new career opportunities (ACSHE161) (ACSHE195).

E.g. The development of better fishing equipment and methods to increase sustainability and to minimise the impact of bycatch.  Also the careers some students will have haven’t been invented yet – in science you may get to invent your own!

The values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus  of scientific research. (ACSHE228) (ACSHE230) E.g. Current demands from society for fish and fish oil, GM/non-GM products, climate change, sea level rise etc. Also input from visiting scientists from UTAS, IMAS, CSIRO, AAD etc.

Science Inquiry:  (Questioning and Predicting, Planning and conducting, Processing and analysing data and information, Evaluating).

Years 7-9:

Identify questions and problems that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge (ACSIS124) (ACSIS139) (ACSIS164)

Plan and conduct a range of investigation types, including field work and experiments. (ACSIS125) (ACSIS140) (ACSIS165)

In fair tests, measure and control variables, and select equipment to collect data with accuracy appropriate to the task. (ACSIS126) (ACSIS140)(ACSIS166).

Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns and relationships, including using digital technologies as appropriate. (ACSIS129) (ACSIS141 (ACSIS169)

Summarise data, from and students own investigations and secondary sources, and use scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions. ACSIS130) (ACSIS145) (ACSIS170).

Evaluate the method of collection and quality of data collected and identify improvements. (ACSIS131) (ACSIS146) (ACSIS171)

Use scientific knowledge and findings from investigations to evaluate claims (ACSIS132) (ACSIS234) (ACSIS172).

Year 10

Formulate questions or hypotheses that can be investigated scientifically (ACSIS198)

Plan, select and use appropriate investigation methods, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data: assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods (ACSIS199).

Select and use appropriate equipment, including digital technologies, to systematically and accurately collect and record data. (ACSIS200).

Analyse patterns and trends in data, including describing relationships between variables and identifying inconsistencies (ACSIS200) Using data collected at sea.

Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence. (ACSIS204)

Evaluate conclusions, including identifying sources of uncertainty and possible alternative explanations and describe specific ways to improve the quality of the data (ACSIS205).

Critically analyse the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate approaches used to solve problems (ACSIS206)

Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence- based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations. (ACSIS208). Write a report on your focus subject at the MDC using this

Science Communication:

Years 9/10

Communicate ideas, findings and solutions to problems using scientific language and representations using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS133) (ACSIS148) (ACSIS174)

After your visit to the MDC there are a number of activities that could be done which meet this AC descriptor:

Preparation of specie profiles and scientific posters, constructed from information and research completed at the MDC.

Explain the work of the visiting scientist and its importance, including a brief biography of the scientist.  This could be in the form of an interview or an article.

Conveying information through art or photography – from one of the photos taken during your visit, write a caption that would interest others describing why it meant something to you.

Create a poster alerting people to a particular marine issue.

Design some web material using information and graphics from your visit.

Make a PowerPoint presentation or prepare a booklet to teach younger children about some aspect of the marine environment.

Write a newspaper article or a letter to a politician/research organisation alerting them to an issue affecting marine animals, perhaps marine debris (especially plastics).

Write/give a two minute talk about an issue, convincing your audience that action needs to be taken; use evidence/research to back up your argument.


Year 7 - Water in the World; Place and Liveability.

The classification of environmental resources and the forms that water takes as a resource. E.g. Sustainable fishing

The ways that flows of water connect places as it moves through the environment and the ways it affects places.

The influence of environmental quality on the liveability of places.

Year 8 – Landforms and Landscapes.

The distinctive types of landscapes and their distinctive landform features. E.g. profiling the structure of the d’Entrecasteaux Channel using the depth sounder.

The human causes and effects of landscape degradation. E.g. examining the effect of erosion from agriculture and building development on the coastal and marine environment.

Year 9 – Biomes and food security.

The challenges to food production, including land and water degradation, shortage of fresh water, competing land uses, and climate change, for Australia and other areas of the world.

The capacity of the world’s environments to sustainably feed the projected future population to achieve food security for Australia and the world. E.g. The economics and sustainability of the Aquaculture Industry.

Year 10 – Environmental change and management.

* Content descriptors:

Select ONE of the following types of environment as the context for study: land, inland water, coast, marine or urban. A comparative study of examples selected from Australia and at least one other country should be included.

The human-induced environmental changes that challenge sustainability. E.g. investigating the issue of CO2 emissions and ocean acidification.

The environmental worldviews of people and their implications for environmental management. E.g. examining the world-wide responses to climate change and the importance of the ocean’s role in affecting weather systems and the world’s climate.

Tasmanian Curriculum Links:

Years 11/12

Biology TQA level 3:

Students will develop an understanding of the role and impact of Biology on society.

Other relevant syllabus topics:


initial reactants

final products and overall significance

Use of light and electron microscopes for studying cells, including estimation of cell size.

Differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and plant and animal cells

Cell differentiation and selected examples of plant and animal cell specialisation

Significance of surface area to volume ratio.

Adaptations (including structural, physiological and behavioural) to environmental variations in:


Water availability (osmoregulation).

Significances of sexual and asexual reproduction

Cycling of matter in ecosystems

Food chains and food webs (including trophic levels, predator/prey, decomposers, competition)

Pyramids of energy and biomass (not numbers) and biomagnification.

The species concept and the binomial system of nomenclature.


Outdoor Education TQA level 2:

Students will gain knowledge and awareness of the potential impacts of outdoor adventure activities on environments.

Navigation: Use a compass to take a bearing

Estimate walking/paddling/steaming time and distance from a map

Use of electronic navigation aides


The Environment

 Interpret weather maps and meteorological information

 Understand how to minimise impact on a range of environments used for outdoor activities.

  Identify strategies used to manage at-risk environments / ecosystems in Tasmania

•  Identify ways in which humans experience, relate and respond to natural environments.

Risk management

 Life Science TQA level 2:

1.  Knowledge and understanding of biodiversity and the interrelationships of organisms.

Humans affect complex food webs in many ways, e.g. removing whales or fish from a marine system

Human activity depends on and has a major effect on many matter cycles (e.g. water, carbon)

How have humans changed habitats?

-What are the problems of specific habitats and how are they solved?

Why do we classify organisms?

-How many different species of living things are there?

-Why is biodiversity important?

- Classification systems

- Construction and use of keys


2.  Knowledge and understanding of structure and function

Light microscope detail of organelles in animal and plant cells.

Surface area to volume ratio.

Study of systems (e.g. digestive system)

Structure of organs in relation to function.

Concept of surface area to volume ratio.


Environmental Science TQA level 3:

1. Students will be given practice in interpreting and drawing conclusions from environmental data:

2. Students will develop an understanding of the role and impact of Environmental science on society.

A.2.3. Techniques such as capture/recapture, line transects, quadrants

C.3.1.1. Role of producers in photosynthesis

C.3.1.2. Role of producers, consumers and decomposers in ecosystems

C.3.1.3. Food chains and food webs

C.4.1. Niche concept


D.4.1. Types of biodiversity

D.4.2. Why biodiversity is important


C.6.1. Characteristics of populations

C.6.2. Factors that limit population size:

D.6.2. Human impact on the environment

D.6.2.3. Aquatic ecosystems: ocean