Term 1 was a busy time for Geography students at SMS, with several classes heading out on fieldwork trips to a variety of locations. Fieldwork is an essential component of Geography education. Not only does fieldwork allow for the personalisation of learning, it is well recognised that a more sensory experience aids memory and meta-cognition. The practical skills that are gained in the field are important in connecting the theories of processes, systems and interconnections and offer students the opportunity to develop their knowledge in ways that add value to their everyday experiences in the classroom.
As a part of their VCE Unit 1 Geography studies, students explore hazards and disasters through the eyes of a geographer. For their fieldwork, the class visited the region of Kinglake where they investigated the causes and impacts of the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires. Visiting the sites in and around the town of Kinglake gave students a sense of the scale of this disaster. From the local reservoir to the top of Mount Sugarloaf, students used their skills of field sketching and mapping, developed cross-sections and used other forms of data collection to examine the impacts the fires had on both the natural and human environments and the ways people responded to this disaster.
In Year 10 Geography, students have been studying Environmental Change and Management. With a focus on the impacts that humans can have on coastal environments, the class visited Hampton Beach for their fieldwork. Hampton Beach has experienced large-scale human activity for many years. Using their fieldwork techniques, students investigated the impact of breakwaters, sea walls and other human structures on a coastal environment and evaluated the effectiveness of management strategies employed to protect both the natural and human features in the region.
In the last week of Term 1, Year 7 students were given the opportunity to develop their fieldwork skills by visiting the upper reaches of the Yarra River in the Warburton region. In class, students had been studying water as an example of a renewable environmental resource. Their fieldwork allowed students to examine the role that native forests play in the collection of our fresh drinking water and how natural and human processes affect water quality and quantity. During the day, students enjoyed a Fern Gully forest walk, examined the importance of riparian zones in river environments, completed a macro-invertebrate study to test for water quality, discovered the importance of closed catchments for our drinking water supply and visited the Upper Yarra Reservoir where they observed the importance of large-scale water management.
It has indeed been an incredible term for Geography fieldwork, allowing students to gain a deeper understanding of the world around us. Term 2 will bring even more opportunities, with the Year 8’s heading down to the Great Ocean Road to explore coastal environments.
Mrs Sherril Gurney