Author Archives: rossmannell

About rossmannell

Photographer & DVD/CD producer (amateur & non-profit), children's novel writer (unpublished), child care worker (casual), primary school teacher (retired from full time but still involved), blog commenter to the global classroom.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Like the bears in the photo above? They are Orlando Pirate and Polly Princess I purchased from The Kids' Cancer Project. Read to the end for a birthday surprise.

Background to Items given away on this blog...

When considering my major blogging events at the beginning of this year, I knew three were approaching. At that early time, I thought they might spread throughout the year but, with the free or not for profit photographic, video, DVD, CD work I do for community and schools growing, busy times have meant the events have come close together. Two have already been achieved and posts written. They were...

Koala – Phascolarctos cinereus & 100,000 Visitors posted February 18, 2015

Post 201: About Bilbies and 200 Posts posted May 23, 2015

It wasn't meant to be but I am writing this blog birthday post on the same day I wrote the post celebrating the 200th post which included a class giveaway. It means I will be running two giveaways for classes (the bilby items in another post and the above bears), both to be decided June 6 to allow for Northern Hemisphere classes approaching their end of school year.

Why giveaways? Whenever I can, I support a number of charities. Some, as fundraisers, offer items for sale. The koala in the Feb 18 post came from "Backyard Buddies", a group supporting animals and the environment in national parks. The bilby items come from "Save the Bilby Fund" raising money to help preserve the bilby.

For the 3rd birthday post, items come from "The Kids' Cancer Project" from The Oncology Children's Foundation. I bought two of their bears to give away. Details of the giveaway after a little information on "The Kids' Cancer Project".

A Little About The Kids' Cancer Project

(Text taken from The Kids' Cancer Project notes.)

The Kids' Cancer Project has a single mission: To cure kids' cancer

Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in Australian children. Finding cures for 100% of kids' cancer is dependent on medical research. The Kids' Cancer Project funds The Tumour Bank, The Gene Therapy Trial, Drug discovery Program and the C4 Consortium of 8 expert cancer scientists, as well as other targeted research.

Two Bears Needing a New Home

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Orlando Pirate and Polly Princess want to find a new home with classes somewhere in the world. If your class would like a chance to receive one of the bears, simply leave a birthday greeting for the blog in the comments. A random draw will decide the winning classes if there are more than two class comments. You don't need to have received a post or to have visited this blog previously. It's open to any school class.

* Note: If individual students want to leave a comment, they must ask permission from their teacher. The bears can only be sent to a class and not an individual student.

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Another blogging milepost has been reached. There have now been over 200 posts on this blog since it was started in May, 2012. For number 201, I thought I would introduce the celebration for the 200th post by sharing a little information on bilbies. At the end, there is a surprise for the class that received post 200 and something for the class one off at post 199.

Lesser Bilby  (macrotis leucura)

 The lesser bilby (macrotis leucura) is thought to have become extinct in the 1950s.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Greater Bilby  (macrotis lagotis)

The greater bilby is listed as threatened. Let's learn a little about the greater bilby.

 

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. Author: Dcoetzee

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. Author: Dcoetzee

From the photo, you can see their size and long ears give them a rabbit-like appearance. While many comment on the likeness of bilbies to rabbits, bilbies are, like kangaroos, marsupials.

Bilbies are nocturnal (they come out at night) and were once found in arid (desert), semi-arid (almost desert) and  some better areas but are now only found  in arid areas.

Greater bilbies can be 29-55cm (11-22in) in length. Males can grow up to 1.0 - 2.4kg (2.2 - 5.3lb) in captivity (zoos and animal sanctuaries) while females can grow to 0.8 - 1.1kg (1.8 - 2.4lb) in the wild.

Bilbies have a good sense of smell and, as you might guess by their ears, good hearing. Like humans, they are omnivores (eat plants and animals). Their diet includes fruits, seeds, fruit, insects, spiders, and other small animals. They find most of their food by scratching and digging in the soil.

Like other marsupials, their young are born (usually 1 to 3 joeys) very small (about 0.5cm of 0.25in after only 12 to 14 days) and must make their way into the mother's pouch where they attach to a teat.

Bilbies live in burrows so bilby mothers have developed pouches facing backward to stop soil getting in or babies being knocked out. Young bilbies leave the pouch after about 70-75 days. A female bilby can have up to four litters per year if conditions are good.

Saving the Bilby

There are zoos and animal sanctuaries with bilby breeding programs in Australia. Possibly the most famous bilby has been named George. He lives in Taronga Zoo's Prince George Bilby Exhibit in Sydney and was given the name in honour of the young Prince George when he visited the zoo with his father and mother,  Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

In 2014, I shared some information with a class about bilbies at Easter time and the sale of chocolate bilbies to help support the Save the Bilby Fund.  Easter has passed again but I wanted to support the Save the Bilby Fund yet again this year. With the 200th post on this blog approaching, I thought I might buy some of the Save the Bilby Fund items in order to give the class receiving the 200th as well as some items for the classes one off at the 199th and 201st posts.

The class that received the 200th post will get the following package of Save the Bilby items...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The 199th post class will receive the pack pictured below with a smaller bilby.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Your class missed out on the 199th or 200th post?

I have one extra pack pictured below. It was meant to be sent to the class receiving the 201st post but work I do for local schools and community groups has meant my time has been short and I am about to share another milestone for this blog. Any class leaving a comment for this post has the chance of receiving the pack below. You don't need to have received a post or to have ever visited this blog. You simply need to be a school class. Individual students need to ask permission from their teacher before leaving a comment because the pack will only be sent to a class not the student with the winning comment. I will randomly select a winning comment in two weeks (June 6, 2015).

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

How do you get a post on this blog?

As the name of the blog implies, most posts on this blog are written as a comment for a class or student blog post when content has caught my interest and I wish to share more than a simple comment. Others can be made in reply to a comment or question left in the comments section of this blog's posts. You can ask directly for a post on a topic but the decision to write a post depends on whether I feel I can and if I have time but the answer is usually yes if a class wants information.

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200th Post

This post is the 200th to be posted on this blog. It's been a wonderful journey of sharing. 🙂

Mrs Jordan and Year 4, take a look at the "Post 201: About Bilbies and 200 Posts" post for a surprise.

**************************************

A class posed the question, "What technology did you use when you were younger?" To see their original post, click on their question.

What technology did I use?

Let's take a journey back to the 1950s. When I was born, radio and going to the cinema, drive in or live performances were the normal entertainment. Computers were around but they were big, heavy and very expensive yet your mobile phone of today is far more powerful. These computers were only found in big companies or universities, not in homes.

Let's see some of the changes I saw.

1950s

Telephone - Telephones had been around for a long time before I was nborn but my family was the first in our street to have a telephone so neighbours would make and receive calls to our house. I still remember our phone number. It was UY 5734. That's right, we had letters and numbers and the phone had a rotary dial. It could be very awkward if it was a cold, rainy night when someone called for a neighbour and my father had to go and get them.

By Louise Docker from sydney, Australia (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Louise Docker from sydney, Australia (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Television - They started to appear in Australia in 1956. We, like the phone, were the only home with television in our area. It was black and white and not a very big screen. My father would arrive home from work to find people everywhere in our loungeroom trying to look at the TV screen. At first, they were just looking at photos such as of the Sydney Harbour Bridge until one night on 16th September, 1956 a man named Bruce Gyngell appeared to welcome us to television. Television had started so we could watch the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. For us in Sydney, our first TV station was TCN-9.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Record players - My parents owned a radio/record player for music and news. My mother had 78rpm* as well as 33 1/3rpm LP* records.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Games - They weren't electronic. We had board games such as Monopoly, checkers, chess and Ludo.

Cameras - We had film cameras we would use to take photos. Once taken, we would send the rolls of film away to be processed and printed. There were no video cameras but we did have movie cameras. The home movie cameras used 8mm film (see below). However, some people used 16mm film in cameras. They gave better pictures but were much more expensive. My first photo camera looked more like a black box and didn't take very good photos but my father had a better camera.

8mm movie camera and film 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Here is a scan of some 8mm film frames. It's from a Popeye cartoon.

8mm film scan

Movie film shows 1 frame (picture) at a time. When chaning quickly, the pictures seem to be moving. Here is a video clip showing how 8 frames from above can seem to move.

We would watch the 8mm movies projected on a screen.

*rpm - revolutions per minute - the number of times it turns in one minute.

* LP - long playing

There were no computers, iPads, and mobile phones in homes back then.

1960s

I was in primary and high school in the 1960s. Classes could have 40 children.

Pens and ink wells - At first, we had pencils but no ball point pens in class. In Year 3, I was an ink well monitor. My job was to fill the inkwells so students could dip their pens in to write. It was late 1963 when the school allowed students to use ball point pens. The only other way of writing was if we had a typewriter.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Computers - It was in the late 60s I saw my first computer at a science fair at high school. It was huge and could only play noughts and crosses. By the late 60s I had an interest in electronics so the big machine with valves in it reminded me of inside TVs of the day.

Transistor radio - The 60s was also the time I bought my first transistor radio. Imagine being able to hold a radio in your hand and listen to music.

1970s

This was when technology started to take off for me.

TV Games - I bought an electronic kit and was able to make a very simple game I could play on a TV. A small, very simple motorbike would move across the screen as you twisted a knob on the control box I built. You had to jump small "buses" that looked like white blobs.

The game looked a little like this on the screen.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Computers - In 1971, I visited the Atomic Energy Commission at Lucas Heights south of Sydney. I saw my first nuclear reactor and serious computer while there, a computer no one could afford to have in the home. The programs were on a series of cards. Programmers punched out holes in them. Hundreds might be needed for a big project so they would be left to run overnight. If one card had a mistake, the whole computer stopped and waited until the car was fixed.

This is what a programming card looked like.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

Computers and me - It was in the 70s I first had the chance to use a computer while studying science at Sydney University. We didn't have floppy disks, hard drives, CDs, DVDs, USB devices or computer screens. There was a very large typing machine where you would type in your program. To have a copy of the program, a long strip of thick paper tape was fed through the printer and holes were punched in it. Graduates had something special, they had cassette drive but I was an undergraduate and had to stick to the tape.

The first computer I used at university (college) looked a little like this.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

Teaching technology - When I started teaching in the 70s, I was a high tech type of teacher. Back then it meant I used a cassette player/recorder, a slide projector, and 8mm movie projector and an overhead projector in class. I wasn't able to use computers in class in the 70s but I did build some simple electronic kits for the children to use.

Audio cassette.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

35mm Slide Projector. It still works.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

8mm Movie Projector. It still works.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Overhead Projector. It still works.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Television - Colour TV started in the mid 70s.

Calculators - I was able to buy my first calculator in the 1970s. It could only add, subtract, multiply and divide. Around 1975, I bought my first scientific calculator. It could do much more. It's old and very worn but I still have it. Before calculators, I used a slide rule and logarithm tables.

My old calculator is 40 years old but still works. Good one Sharp!

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Cameras - I have a few cameras to take still photos in the 70s. All used rolls of film.

Floppy Disks - Cassettes had been used to store program for computers since the early 70s but, by the late 70s, we had floppy disks to store programs. They came first in 8 inch, 5.25 inch and 3.5 inch sizes.

5 1/4 inch (13cm) Floppy Disk

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

1980s

Now we were starting to get really serious.

An Apple II computer.

Rama [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Rama [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Computers in class In 1981 - I was in a small country school in western N.S.W. We had one Apple II computer we shared with five other small schools. There was still no internet, our class TV only had one channel if the weather was good, and the phone was oen where you would wind a handle and ask the operator for a number. It was in this year I wrote a couple simple programs for the children to use on the computer. One was a treasure hunt game and I always managed to beat the class members. Remember, I was the programmer so I programme d the computer to give me hints only I understood. Did that make me a cheat? 🙂

Video camera - It was in 1982 I bought my first video camera. It was large and had a heavy side pack you carried over your shoulder. Batteries were large and had lead inside so they were heavy. Back then, people thought I was with a televison station because video camera were very rare. I was visitng the town of Bathurst with my school that year when Queen Elizabeth II visited. Seeing the camera, police let me through the barrier so I could take a close up of the Queen. I'm sure they also thought I was from a TV station.

This is part of the video clip  taken in 1982 during the Queen's visit to Bathurst. It was converted from VHS to digital.

Video Cassette Recorders (VCR) - These appeared in the early 80s and we could finally record programmes and watch movies. With my video camera and VCR, I was able to edit video I had taken. With my school Apple II computer and a small program I wrote, I could even add titles to the videos.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Computers in Schools - I helped introduce computers to two schools in the 80s. I was called a computer coordinator back then. As well as teaching, it was my job to care for the computers in the schools. Because of my electronics hobby, I was often able to fix computers with problems.

Computers and me - It was in the late 80s I bought my first computer. It was an Apple IIGS. With a printer (black and white only), I was able to print worksheets and dislpays for my class and other teachers . With only one computer in the school for classes to share in my first year there in 1988, I bought an Apple IIC computer for my class to use. I was really hooked on how they could be used in class.

An Applie IIGS computer just like the one I owned.

By Alison Cassidy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Alison Cassidy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

1990s

Computers in schools - In the 90s, the number of computers I owned grew as I bought or was given computers needing repair. The computer room I ran for a few years had 16 computers but only one was owned by the school. It was also in the early 90s I first used the internet with classes. I would roll my Apple IIc computer and modem down to an office and connect to a phone line. It was slow and could only show text. There was no graphics, music or video and I paid $5 an hour for access. By the end of the 90s, I had installed the first network room in the school and we then had a whole school network installed with internet access.

Computers and me - By the end of the 90s, I owned about 45 computers. I would have some of them in my classroom and lend others to the students in my class to use at home. The computers included Apple II, Apple Macintosh, Atari, Commodore, Acorn and a few other types as well as Sega and Gameboy handheld game devices. At home, I was using Apple Macintosh and Windows computers.

Handheld Gameboy Advance games machine.

The copyright holder of this image, Christopher Down, allows anyone to use it [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

The copyright holder of this image, Christopher Down, allows anyone to use it [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Cameras - In the 90s, I ran after school computer classes for students, the money I raised bought the schools first digital photo camera. The camera wasn't of great quality but the Apple Quicktake 100 meant I could load photos straight into a computer. In the late 90s, I also bought my first digital video camera. The photo quality was much better than the old video camera.

By Gmhofmann at de.wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Gmhofmann at de.wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Phones - In the 1990s, I bought my first mobile phone. You had to carry it like a small bag as it was large and weighed around 1kg but it was mobile and it worked.

Scanners and printers - In the 90s, I bought my first scanners and colour printers and had fun scanning photos and making changed photos for the student newspaper. Scanners were able to read printed writing so I didn't need to type everything.

CDs - Music CDs appeared and we were able to use these instead of vinyl LP records. We were even able to burn our own CDs .

This graphic came from a Corel graphics CD purchased in the 1980s under the Totem set of graphics.

This graphic came from a Corel graphics CD purchased in the 1980s under the Totem set of graphics.

DVDs - DVDs appeared in the late 90s and we were able to record movies from TV or add videos we made to them.

2000s

in these years I was retired from teaching by the end of 2005.

Computers in schools - Whole school networks, internet, You Tube, editing video on computers, digital cameras, small mobile phonesetc... The growth has been amazing. I moved to a new school and allowed children in my old school who had borrowed my computers to keep them. I had way too many for moving house and made a rule I should own no more than 10 for use in home and school.

Computers and me - I added my first laptop computer in this era.

Cameras - I bought my first digital SLR* camera and could simply plug it into the computer to load and edit photos and started buying extra video cameras for making DVDs and CDs for schools and community groups.

I have only just replaced this camera with a new digital SLR camera able to record HD video as well as photos.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Internet - was a part of everyday life.

Mobile phone - Mobiles were now much smarter and started to access the internet.

* SLR - Single Lens Reflex - It meant a type of camera where so look through the camera lens when taking a photo.

2010s

We're up to the current era.

I started blogging in 2012 and still am a keen techie type of person but no longer need all of the equipment I used while teaching but still have enough for producing filming and photographing performances as well as making CDs and DVDs for school and community groups.

So much has changed since I was your age. It makes you wonder what we might have in the future.

Will one of you invent something or create a brilliant app in the future?

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To visit the original blog, click on Rocky River Goes Global

This is the 199th post on this blog. Rocky River, check out post number 201...

Post 201: About  Bilbies and 200 posts

Hello Rocky River, here is the second part of a post I promised. This time we will look at life in a small, isolated school serving sheep and cattle stations, School of the Air, cattle stations in the Outback and life on a large sheep station.

Schools of the Air

By Premier's Department, State Public Relations Bureau, Photographic Unit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Queensland Premier's Department, State Public Relations Bureau, Photographic Unit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 1960

Because of the isolated locations of some children on sheep and cattle properties or in communities too small for a school around Australia, a number of schools were set up to allow children to use two way radio. The first radio broadcasts dated back to 1951 and were sent out from the Royal Flying Doctors Service in Alice Springs. From 2003 till 2009, short wave radio was used but schools of the air are now turnng to internet technology giving students better access to information and the world.

In earlier years, radio became a contact to the world for isolated people. They used radios which were pedal powered. Someone would pedal to make electricity from a generator in order to power their radio.

 

Sourced through Wikimedia Commons - This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired. According to the Australian Copyright Council (ACC), ACC Information Sheet G023v16 (Duration of copyright) (Feb 2012).

Sourced through Wikimedia Commons - This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired. According to the Australian Copyright Council (ACC), ACC Information Sheet G023v16 (Duration of copyright) (Feb 2012).

With modern technology, you would find it much easier to use solar energy for electricity.

There are now a number of locations for Schools of the Air around Australia. According to Wikipedia, the schools of the air are in the towns of...

 School of the Air Locations

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Within my state of New South Wales, the most isolated school is listed as Tibooburra School of the Air. The school is based in the town of Tibooburra. The school where I first had a permanent teaching position wasn't a school of the air although some high school students in my area used correspondence school where lessons were sent by mail. My school, Marra Creek Public School, was the sixth most isolated school in my state and the first not to be located in a town.

Marra Creek Public School

This was the first school were I was a permanent teacher and it was considered the sixth most isolated school in New South Wales. The five more isolated, while further from the state capital of Sydney, were in towns. Marra Creek Public School was 100km (62mi) from the nearest town. The children lived on sheep and cattle stations around the school and could travel from up to 50km (31mi) to school each day. Because the outback refers to isolated and remote areas, it could be considered an outback school. If you click on the school website link above, you will see they list themselves as an outback school.

This section of the blog post looks at my time in this outback school in the early 1980s.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When I first arrived at the school, the above photo shows what I found. You can see it had tanks to catch rain falling on the roof if it rained and a toilet block near the school building. We had a flagpole and a tall TV antenna but we could only receive one TV channel if the weather conditions were good.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The playground was mostly dirt but there was some ground covering plants. You couldn't go barefoot because there were often nasty wooden thorns called catheads. They would always have one spike pointing up.

Phone winding

We had a phone where, if you wanted to make a phone call, you would pick up the handset and listen to make certain no one else was using it. You would then put the handset down, wind a handle, then pick the handset up to see if the operator had answered. You could then ask for a number.

We didn't have mobile phones, push button numbers, emails, CDs, DVDs, Bluray or the internet back then but, for 6 weeks each year, we were able to use a borrowed Apple II computer. The computer had only about 12 programs so I wrote some extras for the class to use. Luckily for the children, I had used computers while a university student in the 1970s.

It was back in 1982 I purchased my first personal video camera. They were new on the market and expensive. When I used it, some people thought I might be from a television station. Using it, I produced my first school video clip. Now converted from VHS video tape to digital, below is a section of that first video clip. The youngest children, 5 years old, in the video would now be about 37 years old. I have never before shared this video clip with others since I was in that school so this is a special share for you to see outback children at work and play in the 1980s..

You Tube has removed some copyrighted music I used back then. I try to make certain video clips I now make only have music I am allowed to use.

During my two years at the school, numbers ranged from 12 to 20 students aged from 5 to 13 all in the one small classroom. I was the only teacher and was known as the Teacher In Charge (not a principal).

With a new classroom and my old classroom now the library, a teacher house and access to the internet, the school would be very different compared to when I taught there but it is still about 100km from the nearest town and so is still an outback, isolated school.

Sheep Stations

While teaching at Marra Creek Public School, I lived "next door" to the school about 20km (12mi) distant by road. I stayed in a house on a sheep station known as Lemon Grove. While I has there, the property grew to about 400 square kilometres (100,000 acres) although at the time the video clip below was made, the property was half that size. A neighbouring property had been bought by the end of 1982.

Below is a video clip I again made in 1982. It features Lemon Grove stud (sheep breeding property) and its annual field day. The field day allowed Lemon Grove and neighbouring properties to sell their sheep. It was also a social event for the area.

For any outback property, reliable water supplies can be a problem. Many properties have to pump water from natural underground sources such as the Great Artesian Basin found under about one quarter of Australia although water from the Basin came come to the surface by itself  (see the grey shaded area on the map below).

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On many farms, and sheep and cattle stations, you will see windmills. The windmills use wind power to pump water up from underground. Lemon Grove had a windmill near the main houses.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Each year, the sheep on Lemon Grove would be brought in for shearing in the shearing shed.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Shearers take the sheep and shear off the fleece in one piece.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Once done, the shearer takes the next sheep while others collect the fleece and take it to a table where bits of plants or dirt can be removed. A woolclasser then checks the quality of the fleece. They check how fine the wool is. Merino wool from these sheep is amongst the finest wool in the world.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Once classed, the fleece is put into a press with the same quality wool. When full, the press forces the wool together into bales. Bales can then be placed on trucks and sent off for sale.

Sunsets at Lemon Grove could sometimes be amazing, especially when storm clouds were gathering.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Sometimes, the miracle of rain comes to the dry land and within two weeks, the land can turn green with plant growth.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

If you look very carefully in the middle of this photo, you can see an emu running away from where I was standing. Like ostriches, they can't fly. They rely on running to escape danger.

It is a male. How do I know? Look even more carefully and you can see chicks following the emu. For emus, once the female has laid the eggs she leaves. It's the males that care for the eggs and developing chicks.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

CATTLE STATIONS

Cattle stations mixed with sheep stations are found near Marra Creek School but, as you move into northern and more western Australia, sheep give way to cattle. Australia's largest cattle station is known as Anna Creek Station.

Anna Creek Station is roughly 24,000 square kilometres (6,000,000 acres or 9,400 sq mi) or about the size of the U.S.A. state of New Hampshire. It is in the state of South Australia. The largest cattle ranch in the U.S. is, I think, King Ranch in Texas.  At 3,340 square kilometres (825,000 acres or 1289 sq mi) you would need a little over 7 King Ranch to make up Anna Creek Station.

In areas where rainfall is low, stations need to be very large to allow enough land for cattle to feed. In the photo below, taken by Robert Kerton of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in the Northern Territory, you can see how arid cattle station land can be.

This image is a CSIRO Science Image taken by Robert Kerton. It was sourced through Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_1672_Cattle_in_dry_landscape.jpg

This image is a CSIRO Science Image taken by Robert Kerton. It was sourced through Wikimedia Commons. This photo was taken in the Northern Territory in NOvember, 1989. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_1672_Cattle_in_dry_landscape.jpg

Anna Creek Station in South Australia is roughly 24,000 square kilometres (6,000,000 acres or 9,400 sq mi) and, as at 2012, it had 17,000 cattle. That means each animal has about 1.4 square kilometres (353 acres or about half a sq mi). Smaller stations where more feed and water is available would have higher numbers of cattle for the land available.

Australia is a huge country, although smaller than U.S.A.'s 50 states yet most of it is arid or semi-arid (desert or near desert). Most Australians live around the coastal areas, paricularly in the east of Australia.

Sheep and Cattle Where I Live

My home is along Australia's east coast about half way between Sydney and Melbourne. It is in the Bega Valley Shire, an area known for Bega Cheese and its beautful coastline is popular with tourists. My family has been in this area since the 1840s. They were, and my cousin still is, dairy farmers. As well as dairy, we have beef cattle and sheep in my area. A few properties also have alpacas, none of these animals being native to Australia.

Below is a photo taken on the old family farm...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

You can see it is much greener and hillier than central Australia. Farms are much smaller than the sheep and cattle stations of the Outback.

...and since I mentioned our coastline, here is a photo I have taken of the coastline as can be seen from my town.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

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Mrs. Todd and her Roadrunners are looking at Outback Australia. This is a post about an Outback journey I organised for parents and children from a school back in 1985. It's hard to believe those students would now be about 40 years old.

In this post, some video clips I had taken back in 1985 as my group travelled to Uluru and back have been shared. They have been converted from VHS tapes to digital and are being shared for the first time. 

The Australian Outback

I don't know exactly where The Outback is said to start but I've always understood it to be the more isolated, arid (desert-like) areas across the centre of Australia. Most Australians live in coastal areas although there are larger communities in some Outback areas including traditional land owners, miners and graziers (cattle ranchers).

Let's look at a satellite photo of Australia Wikimedia lists as NASA sourced and in the public domain...

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it has bee sourced from NASA and is listed in the public domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_satellite_plane.jpg

This image was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it has bee sourced from NASA and is listed in the public domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_satellite_plane.jpg

If you look at this photo you can see green areas are mostly coastal whereas from the west (left on the photo) to most of the way east you see reds, browns and even white. The white areas, especially the very white areas are not snow. They tend to be salt lakes and high salt areas only filling with water when there are very heavy rains in Queensland. Once the water reaches the lakes, it has nowhere to go as the lakes lie below sea level. The water evaporates and leaves the salt behind.

Let's look at the journey my group took back in 1985. I was the tour organiser and minibus driver on our two week, 7000+km (4350+mi) journey into The Outback and back .

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We started out in Sydney, the capital of the state on New South Wales and headed west then turned north to spend our first night in an isolated school where I had worked in the early 80s.

The school, Marra Creek Public School, is about 670km (415mi) from Sydney and lies 100km (62mi) from the nearest town of Nyngan. It served children from local sheep and cattle properties. I stayed at a neighbouring shearer's house about 20km (13mi) from the school.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Was the school in The Outback? It was isolated, used water from tanks, had a phone where you had to talk to an operator to be connected, and only sometimes could pick up one television station if the conditions were good. I sometimes had to chase emus and kangaroos or even wild pigs out of the playground.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A video clip of emus in an animal sanctuary close to my home.

 

And some kangaroos from the same sanctuary.

 

When I first started there we had been in drought and the water tanks were low, temperatures at times reached 47C (116F). With rains, the clay pans turned green with grass and roads became muddy. We didn't have snow days but we did have mud days when half of the students couldn't make it along the dirt roads. We didn't build mud men. Snow seems to work better and is cleaner.

Heading across country, we visited the town of Bourke most would consider an outback town. It lies along the Darling River, a river sometimes drying out if rains don't fall in Queensland and can also flood when heavy rainfall comes. On our trip, rainfall in the outback had been unusually good but still low compared to coastal.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Not too far north of Bourke, we crossed into the state of Queensland. You can see in the photo below just how flat and semi-arid (almost desert) much of inland Australia can be.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading north, we were heading towards the town of Longreach. The landscape had dried out.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Stopping for the night, we were entertained by brolgas, the only cranes native to Australia. While at Marra Creek Public School, I had watched brolgas "dancing" their mating dance as they made jumps into the air.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip below isn't one of mine but shows the dance of the brolgas.

Just north of Longreach, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. This means we were now in the tropical region of the world.

Near Longreach we saw an echidna on the side of the road. Echidnas and the platypus are the world's only living mammals that lay eggs but, as they are mammals, the mothers can give milk to their young. Echidnas are also found around my town and have sometimes visited my garden in search of ants.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Below is a video of an echidna taken at an animal sanctuary near my home.

Our next major settlement was Mount Isa (pictured below), a mining town in western Queensland. Lead, silver, copper and zinc are mined in the Mount Isa area.

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You can easily see the red of the soil, a soil colour so common in The Outback.

From Mt. Isa, we head west to the border with Northern Territory. The photo below was taken standing in the state of Northern Territory looking into Queensland.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Reaching the Stuart Highway, a highway running from Adelaide, the capital of the state of South Australia, in the south to Darwin, Northern Territory's capital, in the north, we took a left turn because we had reached as far north as we were going on this journey.

Passing through the town of Tennant Creek,  our next major attraction was Karlu Karlu (known also as the Devil's Marbles) 105km (65mi) south of Tennant Creek. Here are some photos taken at Karlu Karlu.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

That's not me pretending to hold up the rock.

The video clip below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

Karlu Karlu is a sacred site to the Alyawarre (Aboriginal) whose country includes the site. It's also sacred to the Kaytetye, Warumungu and Warlpiri people. There are a number of traditional Dreaming stories for the Karlu Karlu area but only a few are able to be shared with uninitiated people such as us.

From Karlu Karlu, we continued south towards Alice Springs. As we travelled, we again crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, this time heading out of the tropics. Someone with a sense of humour had painted words on the road (not us).

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Alice Springs is the largest town in Central Australia and the third largest in Northern Territory. Central Australia is only a name for the area and is not a state. To the local people, the Arrernte, the Alice Springs area is known as Mparntwe.

On our visit, we managed to see a rare rainbow over Alice Springs.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Alice Springs lies within the MacDonnell Ranges. There are so many beautiful places to visit in this arid area. Here are just two...

Standley Chasm

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of Standley Chasm below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

 

Simpsons Gap (it was late in the day)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of Simpsons Gap below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

The video clip of black-footed rock wallabies below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time. The rock wallabies were our companions as we explored Simpsons Gap.

After leaving Alice Springs, we took time for a camel ride. Camels aren't native to Australia but were brought here by Afghan camel herders in the 1800s. Before roads and railways, all supplies had to be brought in by camel trains. When road and rail arrived, many camels were released into the wild. Australia now is the country with the largest number of wild camels in the world and at times exports camels back to the Middle East.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The video clip of camel riding below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time.

We were heading to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Along the arid way, we saw Mount Conner standing high above the desert.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Tourists to Central Australia shouldn't miss a chance to see  Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Here are some photos I had taken.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) at sunset

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) at sunset

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) up close

You can get an idea of its size by looking at the people climbing it.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

And a view from almost the top of Uluru

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Since my visit 30 years ago, visitors have become much more aware of the importance of Uluru to the local people. While they don't stop visitors climbing the rock, many visitors now choose not to climb in respect for the beliefs of the local people.

The video clip of an Uluru sunset below was taken on the 1985 trip and has been converted to digital and shared for the first time. It is running at 20x normal speed.

Around the base of Uluru, there are many sacred sites we are asked to respect. Some are sacred men's sites and some sacred women's sites.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

However, there are sites visitors can see. Here is a photo taken at one such site, Mutitjula (Maggie Springs). You can see some of the rock paintings.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

From Uluru, it is possible to see the distant Kata Tjuta rising from the desert plain.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Back in our mini-bus, we headed along the dirt road to Kata Tjuta.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On leaving Uluru and Kata Tjuta, we rejoined the Stuart Highway and again headed south crossing the state border into South Australia.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Our next stop would be Coober Pedy, famous for its opal mined in the area. Because of the high temperatures on summer days, some homes in Coober Pedy have been built underground.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading further south, we started to see salt lakes near the road. As they are lower than the distant sea, water entering can't flow out. The water evaporates and leaves the salt behind. You can see a late afternoon photo of a salt lake.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

There were many kilometres of flat roads as we continued south.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

On reaching Port Augusta in South Australia, we headed east and back to Sydney. We had travelled over 7000+km (4350+mi) in our journey through The Outback.

For the original post click 20 SOMETHING KIDS AND 1 KOOKY TEACHER 

Hello everyone,

I was reading your post on the Robinsons musicians' visit to your school. Is drumming fun? What I like best is you can feel the beat as well as hear it. I can't quite tell from your video clip but were they djembe drums? If they are, I think they began in West Africa but have since spread around the world.

Did you know schools in my area have drumming groups? In my area, I produce DVDs and CDs for local schools and community groups. This includes filming our area's major 14 school performance. While I can't show the actual video, I can share the sound of the drummers from a couple performances.

Djembe Drums

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click on the video below to hear the drummers.

Taiko Drums

In another school, a teacher was fascinated by Japanese culture. She introduced Taiko drumming into her school. To buy genuine Taiko drums would have been too expensive for a small school but, being creative, the teacher realised a similar sound could be made using large plastic drums.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click the video below to hear the Taiko drum performance.

(Yes, I managed to misspell Taiko on the video clip.)

Click here to see the Blogging Hawks blog.

Hello Blogging Hawks,

Did you find the title interesting? In a comment, I mentioned I would be buying a diamond for my collection of rocks and minerals. That sounds exciting but I have to say I could only afford and industrial quality diamond as I don't have a huge budget. Well, I bought one.

What is an industrial quality diamond?

You might know diamonds are very hard. They can be completely clear or have different colours depending on impurities. As well as white (or clear), I have seen pink, champagne (yellow) and blue diamonds. Good quality diamonds can be cut to make jewels but most diamonds found are not suitable for cutting because they can be flawed and have too many impurities. Industrial quality diamonds can be used to make strong cutting tools such as diamond drills and saws or even diamond cutters for cutting glass. My diamond is definitely in the industrial quality group.

Can you pick the diamond in my collection?

Look at the picture below. It shows photos of 9 stones in my collection. Can you pick the diamond? Once you have decided, click the link below the picture to see if you chose correctly. You can also learn what all are and a little about each.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click here when you have chosen.

Gold.

We all know gold is valuable. Here are some gold photos from my collection.

Gold in quartz found in a mine at Hill End, Australia

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Gold Nugget (0.127oz) New Zealand

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Panned Gold "Dust", Australia and New Zealand

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Gold coin (0.1oz)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

How is gold made?

In this section, when I type an element I will add its Table of Elements code in brackets... Hydrogen (H) A short way of writing hydrogen in H. You will find some elements don't seem to use letters from their names. Their codes come from their Latin names... Copper (Cu) Latin: cuprum, Silver (Ag) Latin: argentum, Tin (Sn) Latin: sternum, Antimony (Sb) Latin: stibium, Gold (Au) Latin: aurum, Lead (Pb) Latin: plumbum

We all know gold is rare and valuable on Earth but do you know how gold came to be? It's a hot subject, a very hot subject. Did you know new elements (the things that make up us and the whole planet), are made in suns? It's happening right now in our sun.

Hydrogen (H) is being fused (joined) with hydrogen under high temperature and pressure in the core (centre) of suns (nuclear fusion). They fuse to become helium (He). Once the hydrogen runs out, the stars stop fusion (joining) hydrogen. For small stars, they can start to cool and shrink. Larger stars might start fusing helium and even larger elements.

Hydrogen (H) - Helium (He) - Carbon (C) - Oxygen (O) - Neon (Ne) - Silicon (Si) - Iron (Fe)

It's thought that much heavier elements might have been made in supernova reactions in stars (supernova nucleosynthesis). A star that goes supernova becomes very bright. It can be from a very big star collapsing (falling in on itself) and releasing a huge amount of energy or it can be from a smaller, cooler star suddenly exploding back into life (fusion). It's in these supernovae it's thought elements such as gold come into existence and can be thrown out into space.

Isn't our universe amazing? What makes us up, the chemicals in our body, started out in stars.

I can remember seeing one supernova appearing 1987 (SN 1987A). It was about around 168,000 light years away. That means while I saw it in the skies in 1987, it had really gone supernova about 168,000 years ago but the light in our night sky only appeared in 1987.

 

Is All Gold Really Gold?

In the pictures below, you can see samples of iron pyrite crystals in my collection. Pyrite looks like gold but isn't. It isn't worth much but I like the samples more than real gold because I like crystals. What do you think?

How can you tell the difference? Pyrite is much lighter than gold and, being a crystal, can be shattered if hit by a hammer. Gold is the most malleable element. This means it can easily be hammered and shaped without cracking. Gold can be flattened into very thin sheets but I think I will keep my small pieces as they were found.

Iron Pyrites (Fool's Gold) on Calcite

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Iron Pyrite Crystal

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

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This is a short post about the koala. Make certain you read down to the end of the post for something very special to celebrate the 100,000th visitor to this blog. Thank you for all of the visits to my blog. I had no idea it would be such a success when I started it in 2012.

http://www.rasaint.net/ - Glitter Graphics

Koala - Phascolarctos cinereus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Above is a photo of Sapphire the koala. She was born in 2011 to...

Suzie

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

and Blinky

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

Did you notice Suzie had a large area on her breast much whiter than Blinky? Female koalas tend to have a larger, whiter area than males. You can see this on Sapphire as well. Seeing a koala up in a tree, you can often tell if it's a boy or girl from the breast area.

About Sapphire

Koalas can live  up to 13 to 18 years in the wild. Both Suzie and Blinky passed on in 2012. This left Sapphire alone.

Would she be sad?  Koalas in the wild are normally solitary, i.e. they live alone, and only mix socially about 15 minutes on average a day, except in breeding season (October to May). Because their diet of eucalyptus leaves is very poor in nutrition, they can spend around 20 hours a day sleeping. I don't think koalas would be sad in the way we might be when they have leaves to eat and a place to sleep.

It can take a human child 9 months to develop before being born but koalas only about 38 days before being born and making their way into the mothers' pouches. Once in the pouch, they continue growing and can spend 6 to 7 months before they are too big to stay in the pouch.

Along their life's journey in the pouch, when the koala joey is large enough it at first  sticks its head out of the pouch. As Sapphire grew, she spent more and more time out of Suzie's pouch.  I was there to record some of her life's journey.

Koalas in the Wild

Koalas in the wild are listed as vulnerable. That's one step from being endangered and means we must take steps to preserve them and help their numbers grow in the wild.

For koalas, one of the biggest dangers is habitat loss. As trees are cut down, groups of koalas can be isolated, known as fragmentation of habitat.

When their habitat is fragmented, they can face the dangers of crossing roads or attacks by dogs as they try moving  from one treed area to another. They can walk along the ground but prefer to stay in the trees. Below is a short video clip of Sapphire walking put together from a series of photos.

And now for a 100,000th Visitor celebration...

Sanctuaries such as Potoroo Palace rescue injured koalas and also have breeding programs to help keep koalas for our future. There are groups who concentrate on care for animals in the wild and educating people about our wildlife and environment. One such group is known as Backyard Buddies.

Each year Backyard Buddies contact me about their current fundraising goals. When I received the phone call towards the end of 2014, they explained for 2014 their goal was to raise funds to help animals in the wild. To do this, they sell special buddies and so, supporting such groups when I can, I purchased one of their buddies. Because of the amount of white, I suspect my buddy is female but am too polite to ask.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The buddy is 30cm (1 foot) tall and doesn't yet have a name.

To celebrate the 100,000th visitor to my blog, the buddy pictured above wants to find a new home. All you will need to do is leave a comment, "Backyard Buddies",  in the comments section and I will carry out a random draw on March 1 this year.

There are some rules to remember...

1. Do not, in your comment, give any personal details. Safety online is very important. 

2. The buddy can only be won by a class or school and not by individuals.

3. Individual class members can leave a comment but only their class can win. Individual class members must have permission from their teacher in order to be included.

4. Your comment need only say, "Backyard Buddy". As all comments need my approval, your comment will not appear on my blog until the comment has been approved.

5. The eligible comments close at the end of February 28, 2015, allowance being made so all time zones reach midnight on that day.

6. The random number selector I use will select a number.  With the first comment received being number 1, each comment will be numbered consecutively. The comment corresponding to the random number will be deemed winner providing I can contact the school concerned.

Check on March 2 to see if your class or school is the winner. I will attempt to email your teacher, class or school to find a delivery address for your class or school. The buddy will be sent as a regular post parcel, air mail if the winner is outside Australia.

Upcoming other blogging milestones...

200th post - Some time this year I will make my 200th post on this blog.

3rd Birthday - On May 21, 2015 this year my blog will turn 3. 

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To see the Blogging Hawks original post...

Wonders Lead to Discovery

Hello Blogging Hawks,

I know the previous class has tipped you off I am likely to visit your blog and, despite being very busy making DVDs/CDs and helping my local schools, I just had to drop in a comment about your latest post. I wonder if you all suspected I would interested in this post? I know previous classes learned of my interest in many things and geology as one in particular.

What a brilliant activity! I will have to try your experiment myself and see what results I can find.

The questions you started with are fascinating in themselves.

How are they formed? I know you discovered chemicals can invade spaces and, if the conditions are right, allow crystals to grow. what a natural wonder!

How long does it take? I think you also realised how long depends on the conditions. They can take millions of years or you can make them in a day. Did you notice no two of your geodes were exactly the same?

Where do you find them? Over the years, I have come across crystals protruding from the ground and clusters on rocks. It seems a game of chance if you're in a spot known for crystals or geodes. When we do a search on the internet, we realise geodes can be found in many places around the world. Here is a Wikipedia link on geodes...

Geodes

Can you really dye them? When I was your age, I wondered the same question. Like in your picture, I had seen beautiful colours in geode slices but soon learned they weren't always natural.

Crystals can, of course, be naturally coloured. We know diamonds can be clear, blue, yellow, brown, green, purple orange or even pink depending on small defects or impurities*. Quartz can also be clear, purple (amethyst), yellow (citrine) and other colours. I don't have any dyed geodes in my collection as I prefer natural colouring.

*Here's a little information I found. Blue diamonds are blue because they have boron impurities. Boron is part of borax.

Below you can see photos of some crystals in my collection.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Quartz from Northern Territory, Australia

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Smoky Quartz

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Citrine Quartz from Brazil

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Iron Pyrite (Fool's Gold) from Australia's Northern Territory

Mr. B is certainly fabulous to bring in such an interesting experiment. I also liked the option to create a crystal snowflake. They may not look like a geode but each is special as, just like snowflakes and us, no two are exactly alike. That's what has interested me about geodes, each is unique even if they look almost exactly the same.

Look at the pictures below. Each is of a Brazilian geode in my collection. One has been cut in half while the other is complete. I decided long ago never to cut open the complete geode so what's inside remains a mystery. It could be incredibly beautiful but I treasure the intact geode. I wonder if any of you could resist cutting it open?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Looking at your reflections...

Adam - You have shown what science experiments are often about. We take steps and wait to see
the results.

Shaye - I like your simile, "looks like a tiny city the way it sparkles". Good use of descriptive writing makes writing stories or explaining science easier to understand for readers and interesting.

Faith - You packed quite a bit of information into your comment. Adding "in my opinion" is a very good phrase. It tells readers the idea is yours and suggests others might have other ideas. You also introduced an idea, i.e. removing the yolks and albumin (white) from eggs to make them hollow. Did you know there are collections of bird eggs often found in museums, universities and even private collections? Collectors normally make small holes at either ends of an egg and blow out the contents. Can you imagine doing this for an ostrich egg?

Haya - Aquamarine may not be my birthstone but I do like the idea of making blue crystals. I like your suggestion it might be possible to make your name in crystals. I know it will work because you only need something for the crystals to grow on. Raindrops and snowflakes are the same, they need something to form on. In the sky, it might simply be dust.
On checking, it seems my birthstone is either topaz or citrine. I have citrine quartz in my collection. Here is a close-up photo of citrine quartz crystals

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Marcus - You have shown your knowledge of stones. Obsidian, volcanic glass, can be very dark and forms when lava, high in silica, cools quickly so minimal crystals form. I have seen natural obsidian in the crater of a volcano in New Zealand and have some in my collection (bought, not taken from the volcano as it isn't permitted). Below is a photo I took about 40 years ago on the edge of a crater in Mt. Tarawera, New Zealand.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Like you, I also like the reflection of light on crystal surfaces. What else is borax used for? Here is a Wikipedia link.

Borax

Liam - How interesting. You used green dye but your crystals seemed blackish. How could this be? Sometimes dyes can concentrate (get stronger) as the mix dries out or perhaps the crystals on your star were growing on something dark. I love mysteries. They encourage us to suppose what might have happened. Some of our great discoveries have come about when experiments didn't turn out as expected.

Riley - You have given a very good explanation of the process you used to make crystals. I also liked your suggestion the crystals looked life-like. Crystals grow as do we so it seems a little like life. Imagine if we were able to use time-lapse photography (pictures taken at regular times apart) to photograph the growth of your crystals then showed the photos one after the other as in a movie. We would see the crystals forming and growing.

Alvin - I liked your "wonder". The chemical reaction works quicker when in hot water. You can see this with sugar dissolving in water. If two of you each placed a spoon of sugar in containers of water where one had hot water and the other cold, I suspect you would find the sugar is dissolved more quickly in the hot water. What do you think?

Anita - I liked your use of "Step 1" and "Step 2" in your comment. Science, particularly chemistry, uses steps to carry out experiments. It looks like a cooking recipe. Follow the steps and you should bake a cake. Follow your class experiment and you should get crystals.
Why use borax? Borax dissolves easily in water and has water in its formula. Let's look at the chemistry involved...
Borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate but I think it's easy to remember borax. The longer name tells us the chemical contains the elements sodium, four parts boron, and oxygen as well as 10 parts water. It's written like this...

borax

Na is sodium, B is boron and tetra tells us 4 parts, O is oxygen and there is also 10 parts water. It is a type of salt and can be found in crystal form. Below is a public domain photo of borax crystal I found through Wikimedia Commons. You can see borax can form crystals.

This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Aramgutang at the English Wikipedia project.

This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Aramgutang at the English Wikipedia project.

Carter - I like your explanation of the steps needed in order to carry out your class geode experiment. One of the keys to scientific research is recording information. Experimenters have to not only record what happens in an experiment, they have to record how an experiment was done. This is so other scientists can repeat an experiment to check the results.

Marah - I like your description of the appearance of your crystals. My imagination was sparked by the thought of a million cazillion crystals sparkling in the light. I know I enjoy the sparkle as light bounces off the facets (faces) of the crystals. I also liked your thought on what might happen if the borax wasn't completely dissolved. Science is full of "what if" questions and experiments to discover the answers.

Colby - How did the borax mix in with the dye? How and why do crystals grow on a pipe cleaner? What a great questions. It's good to be able to follow experiments but to wonder why things happen is real scientific thinking. Questioning why then finding answers is the sign of a mind full of curiosity.

William - I like your "wonder" thinking when you wondered if the crystals would continue to grow if you returned your geode to the mixture. I suspect, providing the chemicals aren't all used, the crystals would continue growing. Imagine filling and egg and making a solid crystal geode. Your idea made me wonder what might happen if, after the crystals have grown in the first borax/dye mix, the eggs were placed in a different dye colour/borax mix? Would you get two coloured crystals? Would the new mix dissolve the old crystals? Would the first crystals change colour? These questions could be a completely new experiment.

Sofie - Because of the photo, I can see your crystal star so I agree it is really cool. I also read your birthstone is sapphire. The area of Australia I live in is known as the Sapphire Coast. It's known for the colours of the sea and sky in summer. Below is a photo taken from a trail in my town.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Did you know there is something known as the Moh Scale? It's used to describe how hard minerals are. At the very top at level 10 hardness is the diamond. Sapphire comes in at 9 so it is amongst the hardest.

MOH SCALE

Robert - It can happen in experiments. What was expected to happen doesn't exactly work out as planned but this has led to some good results. Perhaps you have used post-it sticky notes? They work so well because they can be stuck on, removed and replaced. Did you know the glue used was an unexpected result of an experiment? A scientist was trying to develop a very strong glue. The results of one experiment was the glue now used on post-it notes. He realised it was sticky enough to hold but could be removed and reused. I find science fascinating, especially when it finds something unexpectedly good.

Olivia - A couple people have written about their fake geodes. I find the "fake" idea interesting. If we were to accidentally spill chemicals on the ground and they seeped through the soil, found a space, and started to grow as crystals, would they be fake or real? People didn't try to make them but they could happen. Real geodes are ones made in nature but your geodes were made in class. Real or fake, aren't they amazing?

Thomas - I wonder if geodes can change? I liked your question. You now know natural geodes take much longer to form than the ones you made in class. Forming crystals can take a great deal of time and need the right conditions. Think of this unusual crystal idea. Diamonds can only be formed when deep underground under pressure and heat for a very long time. They are made of carbon. Can they change? Did you know they tend to only come near the surface when brought up by volcanic eruption? Being made of carbon, do you think some would burn up in the magma? Imagine burning diamonds.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This is not a diamond. It's a glass replica. I can't afford to add a real diamond to my collection. 🙂

Thomas's thought may have been correct. If someone accidentally bumped the borax/dye mix when crystals started forming, the crystals might not form correctly. Also, using too little borax might mean crystals don't form correctly because there isn't enough of the chemicals. I like mysteries in science. It can be fun trying to find the answers.

Mani - Now there's an interesting idea, would the process work with laundry powder?
I looked up information about borates in laundry powder and found they have a number of effects to help in the cleaning process but no information about using borate detergent to make crystals. I think it might depend on how much borax was in the detergent. There might not be enough to have good crystal growth or possibly even the detergent might stop growth. That would need another experiment to find answers.

Saadia - It can be cool to experiment but I think the coolest part would be seeing how all of the geodes and stars looked at the end. Imagine having many crystal stars hanging in the sunlight. Light would be reflecting off them in so many directions.

Luisa - I also think your parents would be proud of what you have made. I know I would want to try the experiment again but remember to always have adult help when working with chemicals. When I have some time, I'm going to have to try to make geodes and stars just like your class. I wonder how they might look?

Prayers - I'm glad your class mentioned making either geodes or stars. I might have though of geodes but not stars. I wonder what other shapes I could make? Would I be able to join the shapes to make crystal patterns?
I also liked your question as to whether you could make crystals without the borax. You can also try using salt or sugar. Dissolve salt or sugar in warm water and allow the water to evaporate off in the sun. Small crystals would form but I think you would find your borax crystals are larger.

Aleah - Your curiosity asked you questions I also found interesting. Would the eggshell inside be white or would the dye have changed the shell to colour? I suspect there might have been some change of colour but that's a guess. I would also guess they feel like real crystals because they are real crystals you just happened to grow.

Bryan - I wonder how the borax turns to crystals? What a great "wonder". Chemistry, the way chemicals can work together, is very interesting. The borax dissolves easily in water and then crystalises out again. How?

HOW CRYSTALS FORM

Without dye, the borax would form white crystals. Look at the picture posted for Anita and you will see what natural borax crystals look like.

Oliver - I like your description of the snowflakes being uncanny. Uncanny means 'unnaturally strange 'but we know crystals form naturally. I also find them uncanny because their sometimes beauty seems unnatural.  Examining crystals and other stones under a magnifying glass or microscope can unlock some amazing images. I don't have a microscope but I did take some close up photos of some of my small crystals in one of my geodes. The first photo shows the geode and the other three are close up photos.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

There are so many wonders in our world and so many I have yet to discover. All we need do is keep our minds and eyes wide open to the possibilities and our curiosity keen to know answers. Every day can be a learning experience just as reading your post and preparing this extended comment has been for me.

 

* * * * * * *

Crystal Art

While working on a CD for a choir, I had the television on in the background. I stopped work to look at one segment of the show because it was showing how to paint with crystals. I missed all the details but was able to search the internet and here is what I found...

You will need an adult to help you and...

epsom salt

hot water

food colouring

containers for your mixtures

spoon for stirring

paintbrush

art paper

What you do. Remember, you will need to have an adult help because of the hot water...

1. Mix equal amounts of epsom salt and hot water in a container, adding five to seven drops of food colouring or using no colouring for clear crystals.

2. Use the paintbrush to paint the solution onto the paper but move quickly as crystals start forming as the solution cools.

3. Repeat using different colours.

4. Wait for the crystals to form and paper to dry. It could take two to three hours.

* * * * * * *

Searching the internet, I found collections of images of crystal paintings...

Crystal Art Images

5 Comments

Mrs. Renton left a special message on her class blog for the incoming Grade 3 students...

Welcome to Grade Three!

I wanted to share some thoughts on their year ahead and the learning waiting to be explored.

Learning is like a seed

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This is part photo, part drawing of a seed of acacia longifolia or Sydney golden wattle. It grows in the wild in my area and produces seeds around 6mm in length.

Why is learning like a seed?

In all of us when we are young there is a strong ability to learn, our seed, if only we are given the chance to experience new things and we keep our minds and eyes open to the world around us. With these experiences as its food and water, our seed starts to grow into a strong plant. Eventually, our plant brings forth flowers and seeds of its own.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

With new seeds to sow learning into the hearts of minds of others, our knowledge grows and our plant thrives and is joined by others.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Our seeds grow strong into a tree of knowledge. Our learning continues throughout our lives adding new branches and planting more seeds as we share our learning with others.

Our learning and sharing can help keep our minds young even though we might grow older. I still discover new learning and, when I do, try to find ways of sharing with others.

A man made famous because of the cars he produced, Henry Ford once said, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."

Grade 3 with Mrs. Renton will bring you many chances to grow your trees of knowledge and blogging will allow you to share with others as it has with me.

P.S. Like Mrs. Renton, I don't skateboard, would much rather go rock hunting and also have a love of science and drawing. I have been using computers with students since 1981 and am interested in many other subjects. There is so much to know and the aim of my journey is to learn as much as I can and share my learning with others. If we had all of the knowledge in the world it's of no use unless it is shared.

2 Comments

Hello Emma,

Thanks for the comment on my "Adaptation and the Wildlife Experience" post.

I never really think about how long a post will take to write. Sometimes I start with a short comment on a blog then realise I need to add more than a simple comment. For the post on adaptation, the writing didn't take too long and all photos except the last picture are ones from my personal photo library taken over many years. What normally takes most time is researching what I write. I try to check the information I remember and can also find new interesting information. My posts help me learn more.

In the adaptation post, one of the bigger learning points is on convergent evolution. Scientists know simply because animals or plants have parts looking similar, it doesn't mean they are closely connected to each other. It just means they have developed something similar to do the same sought of tasks.

Bats and birds both fly but bats are mammals like us and are not birds yet both have wings but bats have hair and birds have feathers. Humans and gorillas are much more closely related. We are part of a group known as hominidae (or great apes) including chimpanzees, gorillas, and orang-utans.

I also love animals (and enjoy knowing about plants, rocks, space, and so many other things). My university degree is in science and included studies such as animal physiology (how living things work) as well as animal behaviour and even psychology so I could better understand people as a teacher. There is so much of interest for us if we only take the time to find it.

Ben and Jerry? It sounds like the American ice cream company. 🙂 They're cute names for the possums that visit your yard.

I find all animals interesting, even snakes and other reptiles, insects and other invertebrates (animals without backbones) and microscopic life. I do have a respect for more dangerous animals because we need to be safe but that doesn't stop me being interested.

About your animals of interest...

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This young wombat is Bert. He was orphaned when he lost his mother. Volunteers at Potoroo Palace look after injured and orphaned native animals.

Here is a video clip I loaded in 2013 so you can see Bert, a wombat joey, exploring visitors to  Potoroo Palace.

I can give you some Wikipedia links if you want to learn more about animals you mentioned...

sloths
pigs
red pandas
wombats
flamingos

The old family farm use to have pigs and I see wombats and wombat holes around my town when hiking but I've only seen sloths, pandas and flamingos in zoos.

Keep learning. There is so much out there to know.

4 Comments

To see the original post from Mrs. Yollis and her class blog...

Wildlife Experience!

Hello Mrs. Yollis and class,

I started out preparing a comment to add to you blog but as it grew I knew it would need to be a post.

From the blog posts I have made, you are probably aware I have a keen interest in animals including their behaviour and adaptations. Something fascinating me is known as convergent evolution. I know it sounds like a pretty hard idea but all it means is different animals develop similar features to do similar things. Here is an example…

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We know some animals can fly. We know about birds and bats. Birds are birds and bats are mammals yet their wings have similarities. This is because their wings have similar functions, i.e. to help them fly. This doesn’t mean birds and bats are closely related. It means they have evolved similar features in order to fly. Birds and bats visit my yard although birds are normally around in the daytime and bats at night.

Go back further in time and you would see flying reptiles soaring through the skies. Again, their wings had similarities to birds and bats.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The human hand

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

gorilla and human skeletons

I can see you have learned about your opposable thumb and how hard it would be if we didn’t have them. We can see opposable or near opposable thumbs in a number of animals but one adaptation interests me and it is found in pandas. Pandas have five fingers and no opposable thumb but, if you see them eating, they appear to hold bamboo with fingers and thumbs. They have an extra-long bone acting like a thumb.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The Opossum and the Possum

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Australian Brush-tailed possum

Living in a land with so many marsupials, I was interested in your opossum. Like all marsupials, they are pouched and like many marsupials, they are nocturnal (active at night). Seeing a marsupial in Australia can be pretty easy. I simply go for a hike or look at the sportsground across the road some mornings and can see kangaroos and wallabies.

Pepper Possum is now on the way to you. I hope Pepper arrives before you break for vacation.

Amphibians

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Common green tree frog

The only types of amphibians native to Australia are frogs. We don’t have salamanders. They don’t have pouches to carry their young like marsupials. They tend to start their lives in water as in tadpoles but can live on land although some found ways around this.

Owing to a lack of photos of gastric brooding frogs mentioned below and with an unknown copyright status, click the link below to be taken to an image found on Wikipedia.

Gastric brooding frogs

Australia had two species of gastric (stomach) brooding frogs becoming extinct in about the 1980s (habitat loss, pollution? We don’t know why). Once fertilised, the female would swallow the eggs. The “jelly” around the eggs would switch off acid production in the mother’s stomach and the eggs would develop. Tadpoles would hatch and develop inside the stomach. During this time, the mother didn’t eat. When ready, the mother would regurgitate (throw up) the little frogs. How’s that for an adaptation?

Reptiles

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Red-bellied black snake

Australia is known for its many deadly snakes. In my area, we can find death adders, red-bellied black snakes, brown snakes and tiger snakes. I have seen all but the death adder when hiking.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Go back 25 years to a younger and heavier me and you can see a python friend. I'm the one in the blue shirt and wearing glasses.

We also have pythons that constrict (squeeze) their prey until the prey suffocates. They are different to amphibians in that their eggs have a membrane (layer) to keep water in. They don’t need to return to water to lay eggs.

Teeth

As you found, teeth can give us the idea of an animal’s diet. I have a puzzle for you. Although it isn’t as clean as the skulls in your photos, I have a photo of a skull I picked up while hiking. Its front teeth were missing but look similar to our front teeth,

What kind of animal do you think it is?

What do you think it ate?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When you have decided, click the link below to find out what animal it is.

I think I know the animal.

Fennec Fox

How cute! On the cuteness scale, the baby fennec must be 10 out of 10. 🙂

Foxes aren’t native to Australia but early European settlers brought red foxes here for fox hunting in the 1800s. Now there is thought to be over 7 million. They do cause problems for many of our small native animals and our national parks have to take action to control their numbers in order to protect native animals.

I have a cuteness long-eared photo for you.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Do you know what it is?

Do you think its large ears are a similar adaptation to the Fennec’s long ears?

Click the link to find out more.

Long Ears