The Bush Fire Crisis
In 2019, record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought fuelled a series of massive bush fires across Australia - many of which are still burning now.
Tragically lives have been lost, and more than 10 million hectares of bush, forest and parks across Australia has burned.
As teachers, we want to help our students cope with this crisis, and ensure that our school communities are engaged in the discussion. The Design & Technologies curriculum provides this opportunity, and empowers young people to consider how we can act to tackle issues related to the climate crisis.
Here are a few great resources and good news stories you can use with your classes.
Build a Nesting Box Teacher PD, 21st Feb, Taylor's Lakes
DATTA Vic are running a Teacher PD on Building Nesting Boxes as a Classroom Project on Feb 21 at Taylor's Lakes. This will offer you practical, step by step guidance on how to participate in the Victorian Wildlife Boxes progeam (see below). Click HERE for further information and to register.
In response to the devastating effects of the fires on our native wildlife, Liz Keep from Peninsula Grammar is coordinating a great D&T program for schools. Following the call out for help from affected communities, Liz set up a project for her Year 9 and 10 classes to build wildlife boxes. She realised this was a great opportunity to involve more young people, so has spread the word to schools throughuot Victoria to take part.
The wildlife rescue teams have all the measurements and patterns for each of the animals, specific hole sizes for specific birds, for bats and possums. Liz will get her students to choose an animal they are building for and research the animal, its habitat, breading etc as their planning.
She has shared her wildlife box plans as well as a draft letter to Bunnings, as they have been donating materials for these programs throughout Australia.
You should contact Liz to register your interest in taking part at firstname.lastname@example.org. The plans for the boxes and the draft letter are available below.
How to Talk to Students about the Bush Fire Crisis
Australia's Education Minister has hghlighted the importance of schools supporting students in the aftermaths of the bushfires. Even students not directly affected by the fires may feel traumitised by the images and stories shared on the media. Here are some articles that may help:
The fires are estimated to have killed one billion animals so far this season. As well as new habitats for wildlife, people have also been creating joey pouches, bat wraps and koalla mittens for the injured wildlife being cared for by rescuers. You can read more on this story HERE.
Indigenous Fire Management
The traditional owners of these lands have managed and mitigated fire risk for millenia through their specific knowledge of local ecosystems and carefully controlled burnings. As Australia suffers through drought, heatwaves and devastating bushfires, more people are turning to practitioners of indigenous fire management to deal with the crisis.
Here are a range of stories about Indigenous fire practices:
How Engineers can Protect against Bush Fires
Engineers play an important role in preventing and protecting against bush fires. Share these articles with your students:
Firefighting Uniforms and Equipment
Read more about the materials and technologies used in the equipment of fire fighters:
Lorimer Marshal's Award-winning FADER System
This is a great time to look back on the work of Lorimer Marshal, a student of VCE Systems Engineering from Lavalla Catholic College. During Black Saturday, Lorimer's family were forced to evacuate from their Gippsland home. When he began researching his Year 11 project, he wanted to tackle the issue of early bushfire detection. His response was the Fire, Analytics, Detection and Emergency Response (FADER) system. FADER uses systems to measure wind speed, direction, smoke and infrared to detect fires early, and then messages the nearest fire station to alert them to the threat.
FADER was displayed in the Top Designs 2018 exhibition at Melbourne Museum. Click HERE to read more about Lorimer and his work.