Earth and Environmental Science with Stella Maris College
Geology has never held that much interest for me in the past, but my nerdy brain fires up with interest when geology can be related to the living things on our planet. The year 12 students of Stella Maris College Manly who visited us for a two day camp program discovered some interesting relationships between our local soils, geology, vegetation and wildlife.
Being boffin earth and environmental scientists we conducted a soil profile using augers, identified local plant species, did a habitat assessment and tested soil parameters like pH, salinity, temperature, texture and type. Students discovered a highly altered riverbank setting with mostly introduced European trees, mown grass and deep alluvial topsoils. As we sampled further up the ridge we discovered shallower soils, a forest dominated by grey myrtle trees and much better habitat parameters. At the ridge top, soils were deeper and had some clay content with a new mix of grey gums, she oaks and stringybarks.
We were keen to monitor wikdlife too – so what is a good way to check up on local wildlife? Using our pool pole nest box cameras of course! Extend a pole up a tree with a Go Pro camera on the end – have an iPad at the bottom and voila! contents of box or nest can be viewed from the ground. A photobombing wonga pidgeon and a curious wallaby were the hightlights of our remoted cameras set up overnight. Check out the footage below.
Day two was spent in our fabulous outdoor classroom on the Hawkesbury River. UWS Hawkesbury Campus has had a partnership with Brewongle for many years to engage students in the ecology of the Hawkesbury River. With the use of speed boats from UWS and some pretty fancy testing equipment students put the river through its paces. They found a large diversity of algal species after some sweep netting in our fashionable waders as well as some reasonable healthy physical and chemical parameters. View the slide show below online.