Ecology and human and environmental health.

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Your task over the next week is to research and present on an ecological issue, answering the big question:

How does ___________ impact on human health and the health of our environment?

The blank can be one of the following issues:

  • Climate change
  • Habitat destruction (deforestation)
  • Introduced species (feral animals or weeds)
  • Pollution (air, water or soil)
  • Over-harvesting (For example; poaching or over-fishing)

Fold your paper in half and half again and write in each of the quarters:

  1. What do you KNOW about your topic?
  2. What do you WANT to know about the topic?
  3. WHERE are you going to find the information you need?
  4. HOW are you going to present your new learning?

Here are some sites to help with your research:


3, 2, 1…Take off!

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Over the past week you have been working with Mr Fallon to learn more about space science. You have had the opportunity to learn why the moon has different phases and how that affects the tides. Your task this week is to research one of the planets in our solar system. Find out how long the planet takes to orbit the sun (year length); how long the planet takes to rotate on it’s axis (day length); it’s gravity compared to earth (related to the size of the planet); the environmental and climatic conditions on that planet and how far it is from earth.

Using this information, create a postcard to send back to earth. Make sure you include a creative commons image and links to any resources used.

Alternatively, you could write a postcard from the International Space Station, the Hubble Telescope or a satellite, describing it’s structure and function. Again, make sure you include a CC image and links to any resources used. This work is due on Monday 21st October.

If you finish early there are some other cool spacey things you can do –

  • Galaxy Zoo is a citizen science project, where you can help to identify galaxies from photographs. To understand how galaxies formed, scientists need your help to classify them according to their shapes. If you’re quick, you may even be the first person to see the galaxies you’re asked to classify!
  • Paul Floyd’s Astronomy and Space Site has a list of October 2013 Sky and Space events that you might like to look for from your home tonight. He also writes a student newsletter “Amazing Space” that includes finder charts for locating mercury, Venus and Saturn without the need for a telescope, Moon phase information for October to December and finder charts for locating the Southern Cross and Scorpius (the ancient Greek constellation – the Scorpion).
  • ABC Splash have some great videos and other resources that you may be interested in.


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During our last lesson this term you will be working on a research project about a disease – I would like each person in the class to choose a different disease affecting humans, animals or plants. It can be an infectious, genetic or other non-infectious disease. You will need to find out the following information:

  1. Title slide (Nme of disease and your name)
  2. History and/or discovery
  3. Causes (eg. genetic, dietary, lifestyle, pathogenic – prion, virus, bacteria, parasite etc)
  4. Symptoms
  5. Treatment and/or cure
  6. References (list of where you get your information form)

Here are some to choose from:

  • AIDS
  • Arthritis
  • Anthrax
  • Amoebic dysentry
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (mad cow disease)
  • Brucellosis
  • Bubonic plague
  • Cancer (choose a particular type eg. breast, lung, colon)
  • Chickenpox
  • Cholera
  • Diabetes
  • Haemophilia
  • Hepatitis
  • Influenza
  • Malaria
  • Measles
  • Meningitis
  • Mumps
  • Osteoporosis
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Rabies
  • Ross River Fever
  • Rubella
  • Scurvy
  • Smallpox
  • Tapeworm
  • Tetanus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Yellow Fever

Make sure you read the information and take notes, then write your text – don’t copy and paste! Make sure any images you use are from creative commons sources.

Respiratory System

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Learning Intention: Science Understanding – “Cells are the basic units of living things and have specialised structures and functions. Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs that carry out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce.”

Success Criteria:  Students will be able to identify the organs within the respiratory system and describe how it functions. They will understand how the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems are connected and work together to deliver nutrients and oxygen and remove wastes from every cell within the human body.

So far we have learned about nutrition and the digestive system and how the circulatory system transports materials around the human body. Now we are going to investigate the respiratory system, which provides oxygen to every cell, to allow energy to be released from food. The respiratory system consists of the trachea, bronchus and lungs containing alveloi. There is an important muscle, called the diaphragm, that allows air to be drawn into the lungs and the carbon-dioxide-rich air to be expelled. Access the following sites and then answer the questions below:

  1. Label the diagram of the respiratory system, including the alveoli.
  2. What are the advantages of breathing through your nose?
  3. Why should you blow your nose when you have a cold, rather than sniffing?
  4. What is the function of the epiglottis and happens when you choke?
  5. Where do the respiratory and circulatory systems meet?
  6. Both systems have a large surface area – explain why.
  7. Breathing and respiration have different meanings – explain each.
  8. Both your breathing and heart rate increase during exercise – explain why.
  9. How do high altitudes affect your breathing and circulation? Why might athletes do high altitude training?

Circulatory System

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  • Science Understanding “Cells are the basic units of living things and have specialised structures and functions. Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs that carry out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce.”
  • Science Inquiry Skills – “Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns or relationships, including using digital technologies as appropriate.”

Learning Intention and Success Criteria: Students will be able to identify the structure and function of organs in the circulatory system and be able to name and describe the components of blood. Students will complete a labelled diagram of the heart and circulatory system and be able to describe how it works.

The Circulatory System is also called the “Cardiovascular System” and consists of the heart, arteries, veins, capillaries and the five litres of blood (approximately) that flows through this system.

1. Work your way through the National Geographic – Heart Interactive. Label the blank heart diagram with the names of each structure, including the atria, ventricles, aorta and valves.

2. Watch the National Geographic Video – Cardiovascular system and then colour the cardiovascular diagram showing oxygenated (red) and deoxygenated (blue) blood.

3. Access the Blood Buddies – the Australian Red Cross Blood Service website and find out how you are tested for your blood type. Do you know what blood group you belong to? Create a graph (bar graph or pie chart) showing the different blood groups:

  • O positive – 40%
  • O negative – 9 %
  • A positive – 31%
  • A negative – 7 %
  • B positive – 8%
  • B negative – 2%
  • AB positive – 2 %
  • AB negative – 1%

Other information:

Student graph showing percentages of each blood type from Australian Red Cross data using “Create-a-graph”.

Nutrition and the Digestive System

Learning Intention: Students will know the five groups of nutrients and how they contribute to a healthy diet. They will investigate the composition of various foods using food testing experiments, including various bush foods from the school garden and beyond. They will compare the diet of people living in Australia 10,000 years ago with their own diet.

Success Criteria: Students will produce a poster, video or other artifact that demonstrates their understanding of nutrition today and in Australia’s past. Their product will explain the five nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals) and the foods in which these nutrients are found. The importance of fibre and water in the diet will also be discussed.

Links to AusVELS: “Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs that carry out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce.”
“Energy appears in different forms including movement (kinetic energy), heat and potential energy, and causes change within systems.”
“Also, links to cross-curricular priorities – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.”

This term we started a new topic of work – nutrition and the digestive system. We have discussed the five main nutrients and the importance of water and fibre in a healthy diet. We have also used the model human torso and watched videos to understand how the digestive system works. Mr John Pearce (@mrpbps on Twitter) has shared this wonderful hands-on “Tour of the Digestive System” that we may try too. Parts of Plants we Eat.

We will learn how energy is measured and the energy content of some different foods, using the nutritional information of food labels. Our next tasks will include using various tests to determine what nutrients make up different foods. We will do the following tests:

1.Brown paper or Emulsion test for fats and oils (lipids).
2.Iodine test for starch.
3.Benedict’s solution and heat for glucose (sugar).
4.Copper sulphate (10 drops) and sodium hydroxide (5 drops) for protein.

We will then collect some bush foods from the school garden and Apex Park and test those foods for starch, protein, sugars and lipids. You will then create a product that compares the diet of people in Australia 10,000 years ago to your diet. You may have heard of the “Paleo diet” (also called the “caveman” or “stone-age” diet). It consists mainly of fish, meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots and nuts and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, salt, sugar and processed oils. What would Bear Grylls survive on in the Australian Bush?

Some useful links:


Year 8 Energy Project

Macarthur Wind Farm – photo by Josh Gow

Over the next two weeks I would like you to research and produce a report on one of the following topics:

Sources of Electrical Energy – choose ONE of the following:

OR Alternative fuels for vehicles – choose one of the following:

  • Hydrogen
  • Hybrid
  • Biodiesel
  • Ethanol.

KNOW –  What do you already know about the topic?

WANT  – What do you want to know about the topic?

HOW – How are you going to find out more about your topic?

ACTION – What actions might result from your new learning?

QUESTIONS – What new questions might you have about the topic?

LEARN – What have you learnt about the topic?

Make sure you include HOW the source of energy or alternative vehicle works and the advantages and disadvantages it might have (at least three of each). What is preventing this technology from becoming more widespread? Please present your work as a poster, slideshow, video, or written report. You should include at least four sources of information (References) in a Bibliography. This work is due Thursday 12th June.

Simple Circuits

We have done several experiments over the past few weeks to learn more about how simple circuits work. You have created a circuit using just a battery, globe and two wires and then constructed your own switch to turn the globe on and off. You then constructed your own torch from two batteries, a globe, cardboard tube, wires, aluminium foil, drawing pins, paper clips and sticky tape. Many of you were able to operate your torch using just one hand – great work! Unfortunately, we were unable to create a circuit with enough voltage to allow a small LED globe to operate using lemons.

We then looked at series (one pathway for the current to flow) and parallel circuits (more than one pathway for the current to flow). We learnt about ammeters and voltmeters and how they are connected. An ammeter measures current in amperes and is connected in series. A voltmeter measures voltage in volts and is connected in parallel across the load (globe, buzzer or other device). Find out more about series and parallel circuits at BBC Bitesize. Ausgrid also has some good information about  series and parallel circuits.

There is an interesting article from ABC Science here: “In this universe, charge is everything” and here: “How electricity makes things work.”

Year 8’s are Electrifying!

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Learning Intention: Students will remember some of their experiences of electricity and be able to identify a

This week we are starting a new unit about Electricity. What do you know about electricity already? Most of you know what it feels like to get a shock from an electric fence and have felt a ‘static’ shock when opening a car door or getting off a trampoline. But what is it that you are feeling? We will demonstrate the use of a Van der Graaf generator in class.

The first task is to write a list from A to Z of the equipment that uses electricity to make it work. All these appliances use an electric current that flows from the source (a power station), through high voltage power lines, transformers, local power lines, to your home, into the appliance and back again. Any electrical appliance relies on a complete circuit of conductors that allows the flow of electrons. Those electrons are the negatively charged particles that are present outside all atoms, and in a coil of wire, with magnets, they can move.Find out more about electricity here:

Origin Energy – What is electricity?

Understanding Electricity from

What is electricity? – YouTube video