Blessed are the Cheesemakers!

On the 17th of March, 6D made cheese. We first heated up the portable stoves. Then we put a small saucepan on the stove and put in 500ml of milk and stirred it slowly for about 2-3 minutes, until a bit of steam was rising form the saucepan.

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Then we turned off the stove and squeezed half a lemon into the milk. This acid turned it into curds and whey and it is a kind of chemical change. We then stirred it very slowly because if you stir it too fast, the curds get broken up.

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We then waited for it to cool down. After it was cool, we poured the curds and whey into cheese cloth that was sitting in a colander. The whey drained out and we squeezed the curds tight and hung them up for a bit. We then put them in some salty water in the fridge.

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We are really looking forward to next Monday when we make bread and our cheese will be ready.
Written by Madeline Stephens and Indiana Bowden 6D 2014.

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Year 5 Science Students Create Macro-invertebrates!

Text composed by Bryn, Drew and Grace,  5B (2013)

Photography by Mrs Fearn

In term 4, week nine (2013), the Year Five students learnt about macro-invertebrates. Macro-invertebrates are tiny creatures that live in the water.  They are important because they can be used to tell us how clean the water is. Some of them are extremely sensitive.

To help us understand, Mrs. Fearn our science teacher, let us make our own macro-invertebrates.  We got in to groups of three or four and then we started.

Firstly, we talked about why macro-invertebrates look so different and about their adaptations.  Then we drew our macro-invertebrates in our books.  We explained where and why they had particular features. Mine had wings and was amphibious. It also had protective layers over the wings to protect them from water.

Then, when we finished planning, we got to build them out of many various materials.  These are just some of the materials we had; foam balls, plasticine, corks, ice cream sticks, match sticks.

After we made our macro invertebrate, we then drew our finished creature for a second time. We then discussed what changed and why.  Then Mrs. Fearn asked us to do a presentation on our macro-invertebrate. She gave us at least 7 minutes to study our creature and then she called groups up one by one to present our macro-invertebrate. She asked us how it moves, what it eats, how it breathes, how it defends itself and if it is a tolerant or sensitive macro-invertebrate. We also had to make up a name for them.  Everyone did a really good job!

This one (below) squirts a green poison to defend itself.

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This one (below) has special legs for doing different jobs and antennae to sense its environment. The eyes are on the side of the head so it can see predators.

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Below is the amphibios, winged one mentioned in the blog.

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This one (below) has a shell to protect itself and red markings to scare away enemies. It has big legs for swimming fast.

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This one (below) has long legs for swimming and lots of spikes to protect it. It breathes through the red bit on its bottom.

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This one (below) has lots of interesting features, including a false head to trick predators.

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So where are we at?

Although a lot has happened here at BMG with incorporating aspects of sustainability into teaching and learning, there is still a long way to go. Below is a student produced mini-documentary providing a snapshot of where our school is at in our journey:

If you would like to know more about what is happening here at BMG and sustainability or would like to get involved, give us an email:

sustainability@bmg.vic.edu.au

Categories: Community, Outdoor Classroom, Sustainability, The Hub | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Pot Plants with Character, Maths, Science and PE/Health!

Here at BMG we are so lucky to have such inspiring teachers and talented students! As winter descends upon us and the outside learning space of the Hub becomes a wee bit too wet and cold, this has allowed our students to get creative with their work!

Pot Plants with Character in the BMG Gallery

Pot Plants with Character in the BMG Gallery

What a beaut! Kangaroo Paw hair and all!

What a beaut! Kangaroo Paw hair and all!

To add to this creativity, the Hub is beginning to help students link some of their learning to real life applications. Through a discussion about sustainable housing design (watch this space regarding this) the students were genuinely drawn into how the maths they had been learning was used in real life and as the conversation took us to double glazed windows, argon gas and it’s heat transfer properties (or lack thereof), it was evident that Science was fascinating and enthralling them!

In the junior school, ideas are being formed on how to reduce waste and promote healthy eating and living. The PE/Health department has started a program that looks at the Hub, the garden and how exercise and gardening combine to improve our everyday lives.

Lastly, the Hub outdoor space has been enjoying the stellar space that is our solar system! Below are some images of students and their look of amazement at the recent partial solar eclipse:

It so awesome to see staff and students use the BMG Sustainability Hub space within their teaching and learning, meeting their outcomes and bringing learning to life!

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Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre

1. Year 12 Mount Rothwell Introduction Kate & Seb -001

Education Centre at Mt Rothwell

On Tuesday the 23rd of April, the Year 12 Environmental Science Class went on a fieldtrip to Ecolinc and Mount Rothwell to study conservation of Biodiversity.  Mount Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre is a 400 hectare property and is the largest predator free ecosystem in Victoria. Mount Rothwell has been established for the management of high conservation value species. This is achieved through breeding and research programs. Management and research is conducted in consultation with a number of government wildlife agencies and research organisations including the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), Zoos Victoria, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, Monash University and the University of Melbourne.

Biodiversity is defined as; the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species and of ecosystems. Our trip to My Rothwell We discovered many things about how to conserve our native biodiversity. This is covered by many different methods such as; a high flop top electric fence, close maintenance, monitoring through processes such as trapping, tagging, spotlighting, and stop motion cameras to monitor the health and behaviours of the native wildlife.
Our main concern was the Eastern Barred Bandicoot where we used some monitoring methods whilst we were there to understand their conservation status. As of 2013 the Eastern Barred Bandicoot has been recognised as extinct in the wild because of predatory introduced species. Mount Rothwell’s job is to protect these species from becoming extinct.
Mount Rothwell and their volunteers and partners are dedicated to the ongoing protection of this remnant habitat, the continued restoration of surrounding areas and the return of a healthy self-sustaining ecosystem, protecting Australia’s most threatened native wildlife.

•Brittnee Hamner, Laura Carr, Chloe Fitzpatrick, Kate Hawkey, Seb Reid, Daniel Bitzer, Josh Minto, Gabby Pino, Jaymie McPherson, Emily Newell, Jhye Kiriazis and Victoria Rogan.

• Brittnee Hamner, Laura Carr, Chloe Fitzpatrick, Kate Hawkey, Seb Reid, Daniel Bitzer, Josh Minto, Gabby Pino, Jaymie McPherson, Emily Newell, Jhye Kiriazis and Victoria Rogan.


Mount Rothwell-
http://www.mtrothwell.com.au/
Mission statement-
http://www.mtrothwell.com.au/index.php/Mission/

Kate Hawkey 12D & Sebastian Reid 12C

Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB)

Body length: 300mm
Tail length: 110mm
Weight: Up 1100g, with an average of about 800g.
Colour: Grey-brown above and paler on the sides. Pale grey to white below and the tail is white above. There are three or four paler bars on the hind quarters (hence its name) although they are not always clear. These colours are perfect for its environment as it blends with its surroundings making it hard for predators to spot and catch them (see below).

Bandicoot

Life-span: 2-3 years

Habitat: EBBs live in perennial tussock grasslands which enables them to hide underneath the grass away from predators. They live in burrows which they make out of the grasses in the area. Signs of the bandicoot within a certain area can be seen through the high use of paths through the grass which act as “highways” for the Bandicoots to quickly escape from predators. These paths can be seen branching throughout areas of high Bandicoot population.

Diet: Omnivorous, feeding on earthworms, beetles, field crickets and caterpillar, and some plant material including bulbs and fruit but rarely drink, gaining moisture from the food they eat.

Reproduction: Bandicoots are one of Australia’s fastest breeding mammals. Bandicoots can produce three generations in a year and a female can produce up to five litters of 1-5 young in a year. Young are completely independent in 75 to 80 days, and are capable of reproducing after just four months. Under ideal conditions Eastern Barred Bandicoots can breed prolifically, however in reality ideal conditions are infrequent and high mortality rates matched with low life span have retarded any significant expansion.

Conservation Status: According to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act it is classified an endangered across Australia but as of March 2013, it has been classified as extinct in the wild on the Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria.

Genetic Diversity:
To increase the genetic diversity within Mt Rothwell nature reserve there were 35 existing in the park to begin with and a further 8 were introduced to broaden the genetic gene pool.

Jhye Kiriazis 12C & Joshua Minto 12C

bandicoot fencing

A major threat to the Eastern Barred Bandicoot is the introduced species (pest species) of foxes and cats. These animals cause the population of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot to decline significantly to the point to where they have become extinct in the wild. The most effective way reducing this threat is the use of the electrified fence that surrounds the conservation park.

The 11km of electrified fencing that surrounds Mt Rothwell Conservation Park primarily keeps the pest species out and the marsupials and other native wildlife safe inside. The fence is designed with a floppy top so animals like foxes or feral cats, cannot climb over it and get into the reserve. The hexagon shaped mesh is also loose and floppy so it also poses and challenge for animals to climb over it. The fence also goes 30cm under the ground so rabbits and other burrowing animals are not able to dig their way into the reserve. Everyday a ranger patrols and monitors the 11km of fence which takes approximately 2 hours on a quad bike to look over, and also to make sure there are no damages to the fencing that could be caused by kangaroos jumping into it accidently when spooked.

Emily Newell 12C & Victoria Rogan 12E

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While at Mt Rothwell, we went on a walk to look at the environment surroundings. The area is classified as grassy woodlands as it consists of large trees, shrubs, logs, and native perennial tussock. This provides habitats for many native animals, which are threatened, critically endangered or extinct. The grassy woodlands give the animals protection from predators. Mt Rothwell is on 420 hectares behind the You Yangs. Each Eastern Barred Bandicoot needs one hectare a year to survive. Mt Rothwell has about 300-350 Eastern Barred Bandicoots at the moment, which shows that there is only enough resources to account for another 50 or so. The reason they need a hectare each is for food, water and habitat sources. If the bandicoots get too overcrowded then they will struggle to survive in the environment due to competition for resources. In an effort to continue to improve species diversity and genetic diversity through the captive breeding programs established at Mt Rothwell, the owner of Mt Rothwell is attempting to establish an additional conservation reserve in alternate location.

Mt Rothwell is an important location because it consists of grassy woodlands and native perennial grass and tussock. Since the European settlement there has been a continuing decline in this type of ecosystem. There is less than 1% left of this type of grassland in Victoria. Habitat destruction (the removal of native grasslands for agricultural, urban or other developments) is a significant threatening process for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot as EBB’s require this habitat type for food and shelter. There has been a reduction in native forest area in Australia and this loss of habitat and the accompanying fragmentation of remaining habitat have results in a reduction of the biological diversity of Australia. This makes Mt Rothwell of high importance to Victoria.

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Once we got to a location, we had a few minutes to go off in groups to just explore the location. We were able to find scats, burrows, eaten leaves, paw prints, food sources, ground coverage, bones, holes, tracks and fur. This evidence indicated there is a presence of animals. At this location, we found bones. This shows that there could have been predation or the animal died due to other environmental factors. The ranger discussed with us the environment around us and how suitable it is for species to live in. He gave us information about the conservation site and why it is important. It’s important to conserve and keep animals alive to ensure high levels of biodiversity. If all animals were to become extinct then the world wouldn’t be very diverse lower the productivity of ecosystem processes and the ecosystem services available.

 Jaymie Mcpherson 12D & Daniel Bitzer 12D 

Mt Rothwell ranger Prenda showing us a Wolf Spider

Mt Rothwell ranger Prenda showing us a Wolf Spider

Although we visited Mt Rothwell to see the Eastern Barred Bandicoot (Perameles gunnii), along our spotlight walk, which is a method of measuring the numbers of species present in the area, we also found a number of other animals. These included the Rufus Betong (Aepyprymnus rufescens), Wolf Spider (Lycosidae), Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus), Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus), Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Marcopus giganteus) and Brush Tail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). These animals, along with many others present at Mt Rothwell, ensure that there is a wide range of biodiversity present on the reserve. All of these animals have been purposely introduced into Mt Rothwell as they are best suited to the habitat of open grassy woodlands and rocky outcrops, and although they are similar to the Eastern Barred bandicoot and may compete for food and shelter, they are seen as a minimal threat to their survival.

Rufus Betong found on the spotlight walk

Rufus Betong found on the spotlight walk

Gabriella Pino 12D & Chloe Fitzpatrick 12E

The Brushtail possum is the most widespread mammal of Australia

The Brushtail possum is the most widespread mammal of Australia

Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre provides a predator free environment for the protection of Victoria’s endangered animals and animals that are considered “Extinct in the Wild”.

One of the animals that reside here is the Brushtail Possum. Although it isn’t an endangered species the possum has found a home within the fences of the 400 Hectare property that is Mt Rothwell.

Though the Brushtail possum isn’t endangered, it is protected. Strict rules surround hunting, capturing and releasing. In the mainland states, possum trapping is legal when attempting to evict possums from human residences, like in roofs, however possums must be released after dusk within 24 hours of capture, no more than 50m from the trapping site. In some states e.g. Victoria, trapped possums may be taken to registered veterinarians for euthanasia. In South Australia, they are fully protected and permits are required for trapping possums in human residences or for keeping or rescuing sick or injured wild possums and other native animals.

Brittnee Hanmer 12A

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New Year Update 2013.

The new school year is in full swing and the Hub and surrounding area has been a very busy place. It has been awesome to see so many students utilising the Hub not only during class time, but also during their lunchtimes! It is going to be an epic year in 2013 for the development of not only the site, but also of school wide sustainability!

Read about some of the work staff and students have put into this project here:

Students helping to make a difference

The Gardening Club

Below is a photo update of the garden, the swale orchard design and some student work from Year 9 & 10 Photography:

Produce and tables

Photo taken by Holly Paxman of regular produce harvest, chess table and chairs made out of recycled timber, as part of her Year 10 Photography class. “The photographs Emma and I have taken, are of the newly planted vegetables and plants in our school’s veggie patch. These photos are of a set of tables and chairs with freshly picked vegetables surrounding them. I have edited the photos on Photoshop using different kinds of techniques, for example, contrast levels and filters” (By Holly Paxman) 

Art students utilising the stunning vistas to inspire their artistic sketching flair.

Art students utilising the stunning vistas to inspire their artistic sketching flair. (Photo by Hope Crawford 9E)

Close-up of fountain grass flower head (photo by Nathan Chester 9C)

Close-up of fountain grass flower head (photo by Nathan Chester 9C)

Fountain grass flower heads. (Photo by Maddison-Lee Bristow 9A)

Fountain grass flower heads. (Photo by Maddison-Lee Bristow 9A)

Sunflower destined for a mini bio-diesel project. (Photo by Jackson Dellios 9E)

Sunflower destined for a mini bio-diesel project. (Photo by Jackson Dellios 9E)

 

Pigface in bloom (photo by Chloe Walker Pierce 9E)

Pigface in bloom (photo by Chloe Walker Pierce 9E)

Geranium just starting to recover from severe neglect (photo by Janaya Walker-Pierce 9E)

Geranium just starting to recover from severe neglect (photo by Janaya Walker-Pierce 9E)

Beautiful Kangaroo Paw (photo by Tamsyn Warren 9D)

Beautiful Kangaroo Paw (photo by Tamsyn Warren 9D)

After many months of next to no rain, we finally received a dumping last night! The swales now have some water sitting in them, slowly seeping into the ground. Water that would have washed away in the past, causing significant erosion.

After many months of next to no rain, we finally received a dumping last night! The swales now have some water sitting in them, slowly seeping into the ground. Water that would have washed away in the past, causing significant erosion, is now helping to rejuvenate this barren site. 

Taking advantage of the wet conditions to increase chances of germination. A mixed dryland pasture seed blend has just gone down. A combination of  ryegrass, orchard grass and clovers.

Taking advantage of the wet conditions to increase chances of germination. A mixed dryland pasture seed blend has just gone down. A combination of ryegrass, orchard grass and clovers, that thrive under harsh and dry conditions, with varying growth rates through the seasons. Students will be grafting fruit trees this winter ready for planting on this site in spring of 2014.

The Junior School Gardening Group in full swing. (Photo by Hope Crawford 9E)

The Junior School Gardening Group in full swing. (Photo by Hope Crawford 9E)

Shot taken in April 2012.

Shot taken in April 2012.

Students hard at work in April 2012, re-vegetating a tricky slopped site.

Students hard at work in April 2012, re-vegetating a tricky site with a steep gradient.

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Shot taken in February 2013. Looking awesome!

 

 

Categories: Biodiversity, Community, Outdoor Classroom, Sustainability, The Hub | 5 Comments

So What’s Going On Across The Road?

As work has progressed with excavations on the terraces, a number of people both within the BMG community as well as beyond, have asked “What’s going on across the road?” Let’s see if it can be adequately explain via this blog entry and diagrams:

Orchard

Above is a Google Sketch of the planned orchard that will be going in across the road. The excavation that is taking place is designed to do four main things:

1) Erosion control: By creating a swale and berm system (swales are the dips and berms are the mounds), when it rains (and in Bacchus Marsh it tends to pour), the swales will slow the travel of water down the slope, which will significantly reduce the erosion that occurs on the surface of the site.

2) Irrigation: Given the site does not have access to any form of irrigation other than natural rainfall, the swales will act as temporary water holding systems, which will infiltrate into the ground and berm to create highly hydrated soil.

3) Food production: With careful design, planning and species selection, the entire system will become a self irrigating and self fertilising, productive orchard.

4) Education: Lastly and most importantly, the orchard will become a fantastic educational site, which can be used to teach concepts covered in Geography, Agriculture and Horticultural Studies, Physics, Maths, Biology, Environmental Science, Art, English, Food Technology and many more.

Planting of the Heritage Apples and other fruiting plants will not occur until winter of 2014, to allow for 18-20 months of organic build-up and mulch through a green manure and bulk carbon planting scheme. Down the lower end of the site, a series of reed beds have been planned to further slow down any water run-off as well as help to trap silt that is washed down.

Below is a rough conceptual sketch of the design.

Orchard sketch

Inspecting the swales

Inspecting the swales dug out on contour.

 

Categories: Biodiversity, Community, Outdoor Classroom, Sustainability | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Letterland comes to the Sustainability Hub

‘Letterland’ came to life for our pre-school ‘Literacy for Beginners’ students (and their parents) as they were treated to a tour of the BMG Sustainability Hub last Wednesday. The children were feeling as adventurous as Annie Apple as they were introduced to the many wonders of the Sustainability Hub while making links to the ‘Letterland’ characters they have met. The children delighted at the worm farm, a favourite of Walter Walrus.  They learnt that the greenhouse was just like Golden Girl’s but instead of grapes, they found sunflowers and tomatoes growing there. The concept of aquaponics may have been foreign but the children were fascinated by the fish and the idea that Firefighter Fred might go fishing there. The vegetables became as vivacious and vibrant as Vicky Violet when they were given new

Letterland names. There were Peter Puppy’s Potatoes, Lucy Lamplight’s Lettuce, Bouncy Ben’s Beetroot, Clever Cat’s Cabbage and Talking Tess’ Tomatoes. The highlight for the children was being able to pull their own carrots from the garden. They’re still wondering if Clever Cat has white and purple carrots as well as the usual orange ones in her cottage garden. What a wonderful experience for all involved and it is with thanks to our guides, Mrs Kerry Osborne and Mr Nam-Ha Quach, who, we discovered, is a special friend of Quarrelsome Queen, for introducing us to this amazing learning area and all that it has to offer.

Ms Sian Rawlinson

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Rainbow Trout, Artistic Lettuce and Soil Biology

With the final term of the year truly upon us, the Sustainability Hub has really taken off. The aquaponics system is now stabilised and cycled and 30 rainbow trout fry have taken up residence along with the 18 goldfish. They have settled in nicely and are adding to the nutrient cycling of the aquaponic system as they continue to feed and grow.
The lettuce that was planted out before Term 3 break, have been amazing! Students planted the bed out in a particular pattern, creating a cool artistic factor using red and green lettuce. Look at the image to the right and you can clearly see what was created. This lettuce along with other produce, is now being utilised at the school canteen in their regular menu.
Ask any serious gardener about what they think about compost and you will get as many answers as you get gardeners. The one thing they all have in common is that good quality compost is like black gold for your soil. The microbial activity in high quality compost feeds the soil and boosts soil activity, allowing efficient transfer of valuable nutrients and trace elements to the plants. This helps to improve growth, pest and disease resistance, nutrient density and some would say taste. The BMG Sustainability Hub have been running composting and worm farm workshops for staff and parents as well as a dedicated workshop as a revision tool for students, in preparation for their exams. Truly hands on learning!

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Embedding Sustainability In The Classroom

As BMG continues in its journey towards sustainability, the Hub is really getting a work out! The greenhouse is constantly being utilised to supplement curriculum delivery and now, the W block building is starting to turn heads and is being used in Year 9 Mathematics and Unit 4 Outdoor and Environmental Education. The W block building hosts a number of new technologies to help reduce its carbon footprint and also to demonstrate how, with a combination of high and super low technology, the building can be heated and cooled with minimal to no power use.

The monitoring, graphing and interpretation of the data being collated by the small solar array is also an area of significant interest to the both the Mathematics and Science faculties. With a peak output of 3 kilowatts per hour, this system is small in size, but has the potential to deliver a variety of educational outcome in the Mathematics and Science departments.
It is great to see such interest from staff and students in the building and what it has to offer. Many more talking points are soon to come online and there is no doubt word will start to spread throughout the community like wildfire.
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