Exploring Homeostasis and Conservation Strategies at Perth Zoo

Here at Santa Maria College, we recognise the benefit of excursions in providing students with unique, hands-on learning experiences outside the classroom, fostering deeper understanding, engagement, and a broader perspective on the subjects being studied.

Recently, our Year 12 Biology students embarked on an excursion to Perth Zoo, delving into the world of biology through fieldwork and interactive activities. The excursion aimed to align with the Biology curriculum, focusing on homeostatic mechanisms and conservation strategies for threatened species. Led by passionate educators, the students gained valuable insights into animal adaptations and the importance of conservation efforts.

Observational Fieldwork and Case Studies

During the excursion, the students engaged in observational fieldwork, applying their prior knowledge of homeostatic mechanisms in different animal types to identify examples in the zoo’s exhibits. Equipped with resource packs, the students collaborated and educated each other on their observations. Notable case studies included the specialised features of elephants’ pinnae, which play a crucial role in heat loss and temperature regulation, and the thermoregulatory adaptations of reptiles such as bearded dragons, tiger snakes, and skinks.

Exploring the Zoo’s Exhibits

The excursion allowed students to focus on six case study animals at Perth Zoo, including elephants, giraffes, bilbies, skinks, crocodiles, and Western Swamp Tortoises. Targeted observations were made, where students identified behaviours and characteristics related to homeostasis and captive breeding practices. Additionally, the students explored other exhibits, witnessing the captivating activities of sugar gliders in the nocturnal house.

Deepening Understanding through Follow-Up Assignments

To deepen their understanding of biological concepts explored at the zoo, students will link their observations to scientific papers they are currently studying. These papers offer additional evidence on homeostatic mechanisms discovered through scientific investigation, allowing students to connect theory with real-world applications.

The Educator’s Perspective

Santa Maria Science Teacher, Joanne Priest, expressed her delight in witnessing the students actively engage in hands-on experiences during the excursion. The less formal setting allowed insightful discussions and revealed the students’ passions for animals and biology. The immersive experience provided a unique opportunity for the students to connect classroom knowledge with practical applications, fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

The Student’s Perspective

Year 12 Biology student, Charlize Kazmer, says, “I was fascinated by the various structural, behavioural, and physiological adaptations various animals around the zoo had to thermoregulate. For example, I loved getting up close to an elephant and seeing how they flap their ears for convectional cooling. We had learned about these thermoregulatory methods in class, but seeing them in real life was very special.” 

Wrap Up 

In conclusion, the recent excursion to Perth Zoo provided Year 12 students with an enriching opportunity to explore the intricacies of biology through observational fieldwork and interactive experiences. Aligning with the Biology curriculum, the students gained valuable insights into homeostatic mechanisms and conservation strategies while witnessing the wonders of the animal kingdom. This hands-on learning experience promises to leave a lasting impact on the students’ understanding of biology and their commitment to environmental conservation.

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