Secondary School Education Programs

Our interactive 60-75 minute incursions are delivered by qualified scientists
and experienced science communicators, delivering interactive and informative
science education programs. Each program includes an introductory and
background presentation and an interactive workshop or applied research
activity for the students to collect, use and assess biological data. We have
options for larger unit based assignments.
Currently, we offer five secondary school programs:
  • Classification
  • Populations
  • Ecosystems
  • Food Webs
  • Adaptation & Evolution
  • Sustainability in a Changing World


Grounded in our Foundation’s research, our program ‘Classification of the Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis)’ gives students a feel for working as dolphin taxonomists. We discuss why scientists classify organisms; the use of dichotomous keys; evolutionary aspects of dolphins and whales; and species comparisons in shared environments. We use the newly described Burrunan dolphin as an example of a modern day discovery! Students become taxonomists with the opportunity to handle and study actual dolphin skulls, then photographically assess skulls and take simple measures to predict to which dolphin species each skull belongs, either the common bottlenose dolphin or Burrunan dolphin. This program can be delivered to either Year 7 or Year 9 audiences.



Our program ‘Population assessments of Burrunan dolphins’ allows students to become a dolphin researcher during the incursion using the Foundation’s current techniques of robust dolphin population modelling. Students learn how to distinguish individual dolphins based on nicks and notches along the dorsal fin and during the practical component, use our current photographic catalogue to identify dolphins across seasonal survey periods. This data is used to assess the population structure. Is the dolphin a resident or transient individual within the population? Abiotic and biotic factors as well as anthropogenic impacts that may influence the population are also examined.

Flap dolphin


Our ‘Ecosystems’ incursion will investigate the scientific definition of an ecosystem and the types of ecosystems found in both terrestrial and marine environments. Students discuss human and environmental impacts on ecosystems that can cause change, both short and long-term. The practical component incorporates the Foundation’s dynamic research by plotting dolphin sightings data on marine maps, discussing dolphin habitat use and behavior, and relating this to the importance of Marine Protected Areas in an ecosystem. Students use the Foundation’s current dolphin dataset and address contemporary issues in conservation science.

Ecosystem - Secondary Education Program

Food Webs

Working as biologists, students investigate how food chains and webs occur in nature. We discuss trophic levels, and how changes in one level will affect neighboring levels. Students expand on these concepts through the practical activity, creating models of food webs based on local systems from Port Phillip Bay or the Gippsland Lakes. Students will also study data gathered from the Foundation on two marine species involved in the ‘predator-prey cycle’, evaluating the population levels of the interacting species in the ocean. Students then ‘interact with the environment’ and explore the effects of anthropogenic impacts such as overfishing, population declines and climate change.

Food web

Adaptation & Evolution

Our ‘Evolution’ program will allow students to become evolutionary biologists. This program explores adaptation and a deeper analysis into biological evolution, addressing the theory of natural selection, evolution and the importance of biodiversity. We discuss what can influence natural selection such as variation, isolation and selection. Students learn how to differentiate patterns of evolution and recognise what type of evolution separates two animals. This program includes several expansion options with different foci for students to consolidate their learning:

  1. Evolution of Echolocation – In this learning activity, students explore the differences between convergent and divergent evolution, using an example of convergent evolution echolocation in bats and humpback whales.
  2. Evolution and the Fossil Record – While examining the significance of the fossil record in developing theories of evolution, students focus on the theories of convergent and divergent evolution using local examples. Students learn the global significance of fossil discoveries in two prominent local locations, Jan Juc beach and Beaumaris beach, and how they facilitate the development of theories of evolution in marine mammals. They will also have the opportunity to handle and examine marine mammal fossils and skulls.
Evolution acoustics
Evolution tooth

Sustainability in a Changing World

Our ‘Sustainability in a Changing World’ program introduces the concept sustainability, the impacts we as humans are having on our planet and the long term concerns facing us if we don’t “make a change”. This program raises awareness of sustainability at all levels – ecosystem, global and into the future. Despite issues in society of neglect of sustainability, we focus on empowering the students and enabling a sense of stewardship. The program can be tailored to both a primary school and a high school audience, with different consolidation learning activities.

Secondary school – Students are given the opportunity to investigate the different effects of fishing in our Port Phillip Bay and use critical thinking to debate the viewpoints of various members of society.


VCE Science Programs

The VCE programs will include VCE Biology Unit 1, Area 3, Outcome 3 – Survival of a Species; VCE Biology Unit 2, Area 3, Outcome 3 – Genetic and Reproduction; VCE Biology Unit 4, Area 1, Outcome 1 – Evolution of a Species.

VCE Geography

If you would like more information or to book one of our programs, please email or complete the enquiry form.