Competition for primary students raises awareness of shorebirds in Australia

Hundreds of primary children across Australia recently participated in the third annual Shorebirds Competition run by Australian Government research organisation, ANSTO. Offered nationally for the first time this year, from 25 March to 14 August, children in Years 3 to 6 from 85 postcodes in all states and territories embraced the challenge of creating an original public awareness poster for a threatened shorebird found in Australia.

Originally designed as an activity for schools, students were engaged with cross-curricula lessons integrating science, sustainability, art, and literacy. Over 100 classes participated in the competition, with teachers submitting up to five entries from their class. Almost 400 entries were received from schools.  Feedback from teachers has been tremendously positive and many have expressed their desire to participate next year.

ANSTO assisted teachers by providing sample lesson plans and running two online professional development sessions in May and June. Migratory shorebird expert Lindall Kidd, from BirdLife Australia, local citizen shorebird advocates Julie Keating and Bryce New, and ANSTO environmental scientist Dr Debashish Mazumder, all generously contributed their time to talk to teachers at the meetings.

Two webinars for teachers and students were also held in June: one celebrating World Environment Day and the other run in collaboration with the NSW Department of Education.

To assist students in more remote parts of the country, a 50-minute online classroom incursion was offered. Classes learnt about shorebirds and were guided through an enjoyable game where they pretended to be bar-tailed godwits migrating from Australia to the Arctic and back. Students enjoyed recounting the many hazards they “experienced” as migratory shorebirds.

Due to school closures resulting from the pandemic, individual children were invited to participate this year in addition to schools. They were required to independently research and prepare their posters and an impressive effort was made by the 74 girls and boys who participated as individuals.

Due to the high standard of entries received, judging was exceedingly difficult. Entries were blind judged in-house and online by ANSTO staff and invited experts. The competition coordinators and educators, Dr Stephanie McCready, Janelle Townsend and Kim Whitbread, tallied the scores according to the rules.

The judges were moved by the efforts of the children, who all provided powerful messages for the conservation of migratory and resident shorebirds and their coastal and wetland habitats in Australia. ANSTO commends all the children who participated, and the many dedicated teachers who encouraged the students and provided learning around this important topic.

Aside from educating children, the competition serves to bring awareness to shorebirds across the wider community. This was evidenced by the initial competition announcement reaching 45, 000 people on Facebook and garnering substantial interest through the ANSTO website.

Some of the winning entries are shown below. All results can be viewed here:

Prepared by Dr Stephanie McCready, Shorebirds Competition Creator, ANSTO Education Team.

Acknowledgement: ANSTO gratefully acknowledges The Overwintering Project, the national project for adult artists, as the source of inspiration for the competition and for their continued support.


Some winning entries for Schools Category, Years 5-6:

©Roman Moser

1st Place: Roman Moser, Kilmore Primary School, Victoria

©Iris Hon

2nd Place: Iris Hon, PLC Sydney, NSW

©Crystal T

2nd Place: Iris Hon, PLC Sydney, NSW

Some winning entries for Individuals Category, Years 5-6:

©Leroy C.

1st Place: Leroy C., Glen Waverley, Victoria

©Tibby H.

3rd Place: Tibby H., Margate, Tasmania

©Charlotte L.

Highly Commended: Charlotte L., Longwarry, Victoria

Post a comment