27 July, 2022 Academic - Community

Penguin Squad

Last week we launched the Year 3 Signature Program, ‘Penguin Squad’ in collaboration with Earthcare and the St Kilda penguin colony. Students in Year 3 have taken a deep dive into learning about penguins, where they live, their needs, and how they survive.

St Michael’s is currently developing a range of Signature Programs, to be offered at every year level, to support our educational vision to nurture creative, inquiring minds to learn from, with and for the world. These programs draw on evidence based experiential learning processes relating to the connection of learning, experience, and reflection.

Through the Penguin Squad program, students will investigate the ecosystem in which the penguin colony exists and the penguins’ life cycle. The students have selected four nests where cameras have been installed and we will use this footage back at school to learn more about penguin behaviour and the conditions in which they thrive.

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    Year 3 students on the St Kilda Pier at sunset
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    Kirsten and Liam (3D) holding discs which tell the students what is and isn't permitted in marine sites

Two site visits have been scheduled during the program. The first visit was last week and allowed us to observe how these birds select their mates and their behaviours around one another. The second visit, scheduled for early in Term 4, will allow the students to observe the penguins again, this time with their chicks, watching how they nurture and care for their young and each other.

We have forged a unique connection with Earthcare and the St Kilda Penguins which allows us to offer a rich educational experience for our Year 3 students. The field work they engage in will form a large part of their investigations in the classroom.

We asked our students what they found most interesting about their excursion to see the penguins, Winne (3D) said “I learnt that each penguin communicates differently” and Reuben (3E) said “I learnt that penguins weigh about one kilogram and eat more than they weigh”.

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    Students listening to a presentation given by Earthcare
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    The first penguin we spotted

Students participated in this immersive experience with enthusiasm and excitement. We look forward to their continued learning back at school as they wonder and learn more about these beautiful birds.

Overall, the students enjoyed seeing the penguin colony and learning more about their habits and behaviours, many can’t wait to watch them on camera and see them again in Term 4. Molly (3E) told us “I liked seeing how they hold penguins. They have to hold their beaks, so they don’t bite them”. Shunshun (3E) also said “I learnt that penguins have long necks, sharp beaks and teeth in their throats”.

Thank you to Mrs Nicole Armatas, Mrs Belinda Klose and Mr Daniel Zito who are overseeing the program and ensuring its success, and the classroom teachers Miss Jacqueline Pagnani and Mr Mark Thompson for creating an engaging learning environment for our students.

We also thank Parks Victoria and Earthcare for their collaboration in our Year 3 Signature Program.