The thirsty koala

WA award winner

Early STEM Award 2020 - WA winner

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School’s project was sparked by the children’s interest in the natural environment, local conditions and personal interest and experiences. When the children discussed which animals they had encountered, they realised that no one had seen koalas. Where were they? When two children researched koalas and presented their information to the group, including that they get their water from leaves, one child’s question – “but what if there are no leaves?” – turned into a group project, as well as a story.

The children discussed many ideas for getting the leaves back onto the tree, such as elephants using their trunks to glue leaves back on or balloon pumps sucking up and blowing out the leaves. Together with the educators, the children experimented with different ways to reattach or protect eucalyptus leaves, using the nature items they had collected during their bushwalks in these different situations and settings. They popped a balloon full of leaves over a tree, covered leaves with plastic bag shields, used a hydro rocket to shoot leaves up high into space and blew bubbles to try and protect the leaves, testing each of their hypotheses carefully, discussing and documenting their observations.

Embracing the thirst for knowledge

The award panel loved the connection to nature and the children’s attempt to solve real-world issues, which are very relevant for our current environment and its future. The children were able to follow their individual interests in small groups but they always got back together as a whole group throughout the project.

We are grateful to the inquisitive storytellers for sharing their insights and their sense of wonder.

The thirsty koala

As part of their explorations, the children created this story, which features the animals they talked about and some of the ideas they investigated:

Once upon a time, there was a cuddly koala who lived in a gum tree. Early one morning, she woke up and was thirsty so she looked for some leaves to eat. Unfortunately, the leaves had all gone so she asked her bush friends to help her get water. Thoughtful thorny devil sucked up the water through his skin. Koala tried but her fur was too fluffy and it didn’t work. Caring kangaroo collected and broke apart seeds full of water. Koala tried but her teeth were too blunt and it didn’t work. Worrying wombat dug a deep hole to reach water. Koala tried but her claws were too short and it didn’t work. Fearless fox ran to the closest watering hole and lapped up the water. Koala tried but her tongue was too short and it didn’t work.

Koala was so thirsty and she began to cry.

Fortunately, calm camel and sensible snake found a new gum tree for her to live in. Cuddly koala climbed up the trunk and ate the sweet juicy leaves.

Finally, she wasn’t thirsty anymore and she fell fast asleep. Cuddly koala dreamt about her faithful friends and lived happily ever after.

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