Teacher background information


Year 3 Science Content Description

Science Inquiry Skills

Questioning and predicting

With guidance, identify questions in familiar contexts that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on prior knowledge (ACSIS053 - Scootle )

  • consulting with and using existing knowledge held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to guide the formulation of investigable questions regarding invasive species

This elaboration provides students with an opportunity to develop this core Science Inquiry Skill whilst addressing intercultural science inquiry skills relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures within the context of the following content description(s) from the Science Understanding and/or Science as a Human Endeavour strand(s). 

Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

A potential way to approach this content description is: 

In developing the science inquiry skill of identifying scientific questions and making predictions, students consult with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Peoples to gain prior knowledge about their local environment and invasive species. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples may hold information about living things in the local environment and changes that have occurred over time. Teachers can guide students to reflect on changes to living organisms within the region; some changes may be recent, while other changes may extend back in time significantly, prior to colonisation. Students have the opportunity to understand that prior knowledge of the environment is held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, who have long and ongoing connections to the local environment. In developing scientific questions and predictions about invasive species, students consult with the local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community to find out about the living things that have always been present, and those that are new and may not belong. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ classification systems for organisms, based on observable features, assist in the identification of living things that do not belong in a particular environment.

Students may be familiar with some introduced and invasive species in their local environment, such as the weed Lantana spp. or the European honey bee. Such species have changed the balance of living things within some environments due to factors such as competition with native organisms for habitats and resources. Some living things within an environment may be destructive to the ecosystem balance and pose threats to existing species. For example:

  • on Noongar Country in south-west Western Australia the invasive European honey bee builds hives in tree hollows that limit the nesting space for native animals, including the native black cockatoo and possums. Consultation with Noongar Peoples about the effect of invasive species on Noongar Country may help provide students with prior knowledge to inform the development of a scientific question or prediction about living things in that environment.
  • feral pigs on Gerbar Island in the Torres Strait are impacting on the nesting sites of populations of native turtles. Consultation with the Kala Lagaw Ya Peoples may help students understand the impact of invasive species on native living things in the central Torres Strait Islands and formulate scientific questions and predictions based on this prior knowledge.
  • Recent research in the Port Sorrell region of northern Tasmania has shown that sugar gliders, believed to have been introduced to Tasmania from mainland Australia early last century, are contributing to the decline of the swift parrot, one of Australia’s most endangered birds. Students may be able to gain prior knowledge about the changes to living things in this area of northern Tasmania through consultation with Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Since European colonisation more than 3,000 living things, including plants, mammals, marine species, birds and reptiles have been introduced to Australia, affecting all habitats across the continent. Incorporation of this elaboration can provide students with the opportunity to consult with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Peoples to access prior knowledge about living things in the environment and the effect of invasive species. Teachers can guide students to use this knowledge in the development of the science inquiry skill, to identify and formulate scientific questions about living things in the environment and make predictions regarding the environmental impact of invasive species.