12 September 2014 - A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of travelling to Heron Island with a group of staff and students studying Biology and Marine Science. I know what you’re saying, ‘he gets all the good gigs!’ Well, there is no disputing the beauty of Heron Island, with its magnificent coral reefs, prolific array of marine life and island flora and fauna. However, this was no holiday trip. Like all of our Emmanuel co-curricular activities that seek to extend students in their learning, this was a trip that challenged their thinking and knowledge of this environment. An opportunity that was relished by each and every student, and staff member.
Heron Island, whilst being a wonderful holiday destination for families, is the location of the University of Queensland’s Research Facility where research scientists are constantly working to understand the reef’s fragile coral ecosystem and the ways in which we might protect and preserve the wonders of The Great Barrier Reef. After an overnight bus trip and a two hour boat trip out to the reef, one that had quite a number of us looking a beautiful shade of ‘Hulk’ green, we settled into the UQ accommodation and quickly set about investigating our surrounds. Mrs Claassen and Mrs Crowley put together an outstanding program with a range of different field experiences from island transects, boat dives to snorkel the reefs and reef walks to tours of the UQ facility and lectures from scientific researchers currently working at the facility. Mrs Tabacaru provided opportunities for us all to reflect on God’s creation in light of the environment around us.
All our students had a thoroughly wonderful time of experiential learning and applying scientific theories to practical field study, and it has to be said that snorkelling with Grouper, Reef Sharks, Green Sea Turtles and a range of Rays, as well as all the other species of reef fish and coral, was quite amazing! It perhaps goes without saying that I was exceptionally proud of the way that our Year 10 and 11 students approached this week of learning and the way they represented Emmanuel College whilst visiting this professional facility.
Thank you to Mrs Claassen, Mrs Crowley and Mrs Tabacaru for their expertise and vision in providing this opportunity for our students and for the many hours preparing the trip and our students with the necessary snorkelling training. To prospective Biology and Marine Science students, this is a fabulous activity that I highly recommend and worth you setting your sights on for the future.
Mr Eliot Sanger
Head of Senior School