A female student looking down at a butterfly resting on her shoulder.

Sustaining Life in an Ecosystem

Year levels



$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during the school term)

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students

Using two real-life case studies, discover what experts need to consider in order to save a threatened frog and butterfly species from extinction. Develop an understanding of the impact of adaptations, homeostasis and disease on survival and collect data to determine how species interact within ecosystems.

Program Description

Sustaining Life in an Ecosystem allows VCE Biology students to study the Southern Corroboree Frog as an in-depth case study to understand the factors affecting the survival of a species within an ecosystem. Students can also hone their practical investigation skills to plan and collect real-world data by surveying the distribution of a butterfly species within the Butterfly House. Sustaining Life in an Ecosystem is a real-world, practical investigation perfect for school assessed coursework.

Student will learn:

  • The structural, physiological and behavioural adaptations of the Southern Corroboree Frog
  • The factors to consider in designing an effective breeding program to save a species from extinction
  • How disease, including a global devastating fungal infection, can affect a species
  • Develop an understanding through multi-modal representations, classroom discussion and critical thinking activities
  • Practice practical investigation skills to plan and collect real-world data by surveying the distribution of a butterfly species within the Butterfly House
Activity Duration

Workshop with Melbourne Zoo teacher – a Zoo educator will explore:

  • Structural, behavioural and physiological adaptations
  • Homeostasis and stimulus-response signalling
  • Interdependencies of species within an ecosystem, including distribution and density
40 minutes
Practical investigation with a Melbourne Zoo teacher: Collecting data in the butterfly house 40 minutes
Student-led research time – visit animal exhibits, attend educational keeper talks 1 - 4 hours

Program resources

These documents are password protected so that VCE students can complete their Student Workbook to the best of their ability. You will be emailed the password when you book your excursion.

Learning outcomes

Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) - Biology

Unit 1: How do living things stay alive?

Area of Study 2: How do living systems sustain life?

  • Students will explore the survival of a species through learning about their adaptations, homeostasis, disease and natural history and how this understanding can inform strategies to prevent extinction of a species

Area of Study 3: Practical investigation

  • Students will carry out a practical investigation that considers experimental design. This will include surveying butterflies within a habitat to collect and analyse data, which will inform strategies to conserve a threatened species of butterfly


Plan your excursion 

Sustaining Life in an Ecosystem is an outdoor all-weather program; the students will need appropriate clothing for weather conditions. Students will need a copy of the student workbook, clipboard and a pen. Teachers will need a copy of the teacher workbook. Student electronic devices are encouraged.

School groups will enter via Rail Gate. The organising teacher must present their booking confirmation to Admission staff prior to students and remaining teachers entering the Zoo. More information

Book your excursion

Call (03) 9340 2788

You will need the following to book your excursion:

  • Education program of your choice
  • Preferred excursion date
  • School name and address
  • Contact details of organising teacher
  • Number of students/classes and their year level