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Exploring life cycles

Exploring life cycles is an exploration into the wondrous world of animals where students explore the concepts of ordered stages of growth and change, metamorphosis, parenting behaviours and the varied lengths of different lifecycles.

The commencement of the 2010 school year coincided with the birth of Melbourne Zoo's first baby elephant Mali, creating wonderment and intrigue amongst the Victorian community. 
Year 3 teacher Catherine contacted the Zoo requesting weekly updates on Mali's growth rate to graph and predict with her students. 
St Paul's Anglican Grammar is two hours from Melbourne and Catherine wished to connect her students with Mali and the Zoo. Via regular email updates the students began to regularly send questions to Zoo education staff.

Mali was integrated into all aspects of the curriculum for the class in the following ways:

  • Graphing, estimation and prediction of the growth rate of Mali
  • Student feelings about Mali and her needs and requirements were expressed through story writing
  • Students came up with their own spelling words for the week after the above research was conducted
  • Students later compared themselves and their own growth to elephants through Venn Diagrams
  • Students designed and created an enclosure for the baby elephant and her family

Upon witnessing the rich learning experiences created in the classroom and the students' connection with Melbourne Zoo, the school principal, with assistance from the Zoo's education manager, acquired funding to assist in Year 3 attending Melbourne Zoo's lifecycle program.

The Grade 3 teachers continued the lifecycle theme back at school for Term 2 with the class observing the growth of a litter of rabbits in their classroom and Term 3 took on a focus of Endangered Species. All of this is due to the students' connection to animals fostered through Mali and the specialist wildlife educators at the Zoo.