2012/13 has been a busy and rewarding year for Kings Park Education with a focus on consolidation of the Education programs and planning for future growth.
Bookings for Education programs have grown considerably in recent years. From 177 bookings in 2009/10 bookings increased in 2010/11 by 30% to 237 followed by a further 24% rise to 294 bookings in 2011/12. In 2012/13 there were 507 bookings for curriculum based education programs, an increase of 72%.
The opening of the Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park (2011), the new Kings Park Education facility (2012) and the launch of a range of newly developed programs in June 2012, has created a niche for environmental and cultural education in Kings Park and Botanic Garden.
A further 302 bookings (an increase of 70%) for professional development, self-guided and school holiday programs have involved more than 30,000 participants in education programs this year, almost twice the participation compared with the previous year.
Education based bookings 2012/13
Tailored lessons for school students K –12
(including parents and teachers attending lessons)
Programs were delivered by qualified and experienced educators, with two new casual Education Officers joining the team in 2012/13 to meet increasing demand. The NatureActivity Officers also assisted with programs and provided help and assistance to schools using the venue. Additional support was provided by a new team of volunteers who assisted the Education Officers with the running of programs, administration and preparation tasks. There are currently 12 active Kings Park Education volunteers.
Opportunities for an excursion with combination of a formal curriculum-based education program delivered by a Kings Park Education Officer and the opportunity for self-guided exploration of Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park have been enthusiastically received by both teachers and students.
During the 2012 school calendar year Kings Park Education delivered 15 core Australian curriculum-based programs, five self-guided programs and 16 special programs and events. In 2013, 16 curriculum-based programs are on offer with 6 self-guided programs and 11 special programs and events scheduled through the year.
2012/13 has been a period of review and development of the new Kings Park Education programs and service operation. Programs were improved and amended in line with changes to the Australian curriculum as required. Changes have also taken place in response to teacher feedback, for example the Bushland Carers special program is now a core program available throughout the year to meet demand by Department of Environment and Conservation Bush Ranger groups and secondary science teachers. Other programs, such as Bizarre Botanicals, have been separated into two different programs to better meet the specific science outcomes of the curriculum for different year levels.
The 2013 education program focuses on more curriculum relevant programs that better meet the demand and learning requirements of schools.
One of the new programs, named It’s a Plant’s Life, allows Year 3-4 students to observe, record and investigate the characteristics of plants as they grow, and their importance in providing habitats and producing oxygen for other living things. The new program for Years 5-7 named Bizarre Botanicals, is focused on how plants have adapted to environmental conditions and climate. Both programs use the Kings Park Education facilities and specially planted garden beds provided at the new Education Centre.
Another new program, Chunyart and the Cheeky Parrot, has undergone a trial period and focuses on local Aboriginal culture for students Pre-Primary to Year 2. It is based on the story of a young Nyoongar boy who learns how plants are used for food, medicine and tools in the traditional Aboriginal culture. This program and its published children’s book will be officially launched in September 2013.
The lesson plan for the pre-kindergarten program Bushland Stories was designed to improve learning outcomes and incorporates the Kings Park storybook Homes and Hideways, with valuable sensory learning experiences.
All teachers booked into an education program receive a teacher resource pack to complement their specific program and enhance the education opportunities for their students. Three new teacher resource packs were developed for the new programs and existing packs were reviewed as part of changes being made to programs. All core program packs have been updated with new curriculum links and include more post excursion activities designed to extend learning from a visit to Kings Park back in the classroom.
Special Programs and Events
New in 2012 were the Nyoongar Boodja – Six Seasons Indigenous Festivals. Three of these events were held during the 2012/13 period, 30 October – 2 November 2012, 4 – 7 December 2012 and 2 – 5 April 2013 with 1,038 students participating. Aboriginal presenters delivered a range of activities linked to History in the Australian curriculum and the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal History and Culture.
Interactive experiences delivered collaboratively with the Department of Conservation and Environment included tool making, boomerang and spear throwing and building mia mias. External Aboriginal presenters engaged students in oral history through storytelling, while the didgeridoo and dance performances highlighted the significance of dance for important ceremonies. Students learned about the traditional uses of plants for food, bush medicine, tool and shelter making and sampled some delicious bush tucker.
The annual ‘Quiz on Legs’ event was held on 26 September 2012 in the Western Australian Botanic Garden. The 1,500 students who attended this environmental education program had a fun-filled day learning about the natural environment, traditional Aboriginal Culture and sustainability.
During Terms 3 and 4 of 2012, students participated in other special Kings Park Education events including National Science Week 13-17 August, the Kings Park Festival Poster Exhibition 1-30 September, Festival Art Week 10-14 September and the Great Aussie Garden Theatre Show 20-23 November.
The new Child versus Wild bush survival program held on World Environment Day in June 2013 proved to be very popular.
Teacher Professional Learning Sessions
Teachers are required to attend an introductory session prior to their first excursion to Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park. A tour of the site provides familiarisation, and the opportunity to discuss health and safety and best use of the site. Sessions are free and held on the first Thursday of the month during the school year. The introduction outlines the philosophy of Kings Park Education and the logistics of the day; from drop-off points, bag storage, lunch locations and toilets. The teachers who attended an introduction session reported that they were better organised and more confident on the day of their excursion.
Kings Park Education delivered a conference workshop on Meeting Curriculum Outcomes in the Outdoor Classroom at the annual Science Teachers’ Association WA Conference in March 2013.
Scientific and Horticultural Training Programs
The BGPA is a leader in providing training for the next generation of biologists, horticulturists, environmental scientists and land managers.
The BGPA trainee program for students in Horticulture, Turf Management, Arboriculture and Conservation and Land Management incorporates on the job training by skilled and experienced staff in the many and varied work areas within Kings Park and Bold Park as well as one day per week of formal education in a tertiary institution.
At the end of 2012, four trainees achieved their Certificate III in Horticulture, one achieved Certificate III in Arboriculture, one achieved Certificate II in Horticulture and one achieved Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management. In 2013, eight new trainees were recruited to bring the total number of students in this area to twelve. All trainees performed well in both their chosen area of study and in their everyday working environment, with one being successfully appointed to a permanent nursery position in Kings Park.
The coordination and teaching of the Conservation Biology and Restoration Ecology course by the BGPA’s Science Directorate is part of the Masters stream at the University of Western Australia. 2013 was the tenth year BGPA has co-ordinated this course and it is attracting both domestic and international students interested in experiencing the management of real-life research projects in an operational laboratory. Research students are paired with BGPA research scientists for the semester and undertake cutting edge research in conservation and restoration of Western Australian flora. This year, nine projects from various disciplines were offered to the eleven students.
Twenty-four PhD students were directly supported and housed in the BGPA’s laboratories, one of the largest cohorts outside the tertiary sector. This illustrates the BGPA’s ongoing commitment to training and skilling scientists to address Western Australia's environmental issues.
Eight three-month Summer Scholarships were offered in 2012/13 for post-graduate research in native plant conservation biology or restoration ecology.
Maps, Brochures and Publications
The BGPA continues to maintain an extensive suite of maps, signs and both printed and online information to inform the community of the many activities and attractions within Kings Park and Botanic Garden and Bold Park.
A new book titled “Australian Native Plants – The Kings Park Experience” was written in a collaborative effort from a number of BGPA and Department of Agriculture staff and published by CSIRO Publishing. Drawing on a wealth of experience in Kings Park over 50 years, this publication is a comprehensive guide to growing native plants, particularly Western Australian species, and covers some of the technical areas that will be of interest to industry practitioners as well as advanced home gardeners. An official launch is scheduled for August 2013.
In response to visitor feedback, various Kings Park visitor maps and brochures were updated this year including:
Picnic and BBQ Areas Map
Sport and Fitness brochure
Bushland Nature Trail brochure
New brochures were developed quarterly for Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park each with a suite of new things to do, to ensure repeat visitors were offered stimulating suggestions in their explorations of this nature based facility.
A comprehensive new Kings Park Education brochure was developed to complement and promote the range of programs on offer for the 2013 school year.
The development of a new publication began this year for a children’s picture story book called Chunyart and the Cheeky Parrot – the story of a young Nyoongar boy setting out on his first hunting journey with his father and uncles in the area now known as Kings Park. This book will be published for sale and as support to the new Kings Park Education program of the same name. The book will be launched in September 2013.
The Swan River Trust approached BGPA to modify key signs in Kings Park to incorporate the name Swan Canning Riverpark, in place of the Swan River, on all the signage maps in the park and on printed collateral. This was completed in 2012/13.
The Bold Park Birds brochure was revised during the year in conjunction with members of BirdLife WA.
BGPA staff contributed research papers and articles for publication in a range of scientific and other journals. In addition, 26 news articles were written by BGPA staff for the quarterly For People and Plants magazine produced by the Friends of Kings Park. These publications provide information about activities in Kings Park and Botanic Garden including projects, events, BGPA research and other activities. Details of research papers, articles and BGPA publications can be found in Appendix 3 of this Report.
Visitor signage continues to be a focus for the BGPA to assist in visitor directions, enhance understanding and ensuring the safety of visitors and assets. New signage was installed for the Kings Park Education building to assist visitors in locating and understanding this new facility. All signs around the park have been updated with the current government logo.
New major entry signs were developed for Bold Park and installed at Reabold Hill, Tuart Carpark and Camel Lake Carpark. They include a map of Bold Park, a welcome statement, key regulations and information on self-guided walking trails and guided walks. These signs have drawn positive feedback from visitors and will be further enhanced with the addition of an interpretive panel in the coming year.
Other signs under review at Bold Park include the Camel Lake Heritage Trail interpretive signs, the panorama panels at Reabold Hill Lookout and upgraded directional signs to incorporate emergency exit information.