Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest nature discovery project – a unique multi-million dollar partnership between the Australian Government, BHP and Earthwatch Australia.
In Australia, there are an estimated 580,000-680,000 species in Australia, but three-quarters of this biodiversity is yet to be identified. Forty-five per cent of continental Australia and over 90 per cent of our marine area have never been comprehensively surveyed by scientists. Bush Blitz aims to protect Australia’s biodiversity and build resilience in our landscapes by increasing the collection and sharing of scientific knowledge.
Bush Blitz fosters “collective action” which recognises that Australian’s must work together, to build our capacity to manage land, and understand the significant role biodiversity plays in healthy, sustainable ecosystems.
This is achieved by connecting specialist taxonomists, indigenous communities, rangers and landholders, teachers, students and BHP employees. Together they are making an extraordinary contribution to the protection of our country’s natural heritage.
Since the program began in 2010 Bush Blitz scientists (assisted by teachers and BHP employees working as research assistants in the field), have:
- Discovered over 1,700 new species over 40 expeditions
- Re-discovered species that were thought to be extinct
- Found new locations of threatened species
- Recorded species range extensions to understand their spread and migration
- Increasing knowledge of weed and pest species and their invasive potential and
- Added tens of thousands of species records to publicly accessible databases, increasing our scientific knowledge to help protect our biodiversity for generations to come
Check out the Government's Bush Blitz program.
What is Bush Blitz TeachLive?
Bush Blitz TeachLive is a fully-funded educational and professional development program that places Australian primary and secondary school teachers of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and geography as research assistants on Bush Blitz expeditions. During the expedition, teachers help scientists with vital data collection, learn scientific skills, and communicate with their students by posting blogs on the Earthwatch website, video-calling their class from the field, and creating lesson plans using their new knowledge and motivation following their Bush Blitz experience.
Objectives of the program
- Educate teachers and students about Australia’s biodiversity and the importance of conservation
- Inspire students to pursue further studies in STEM subjects by exposing them to real and exciting scientific research in an Australian context, and building their core skills and knowledge in science and biodiversity conservation
- Inspire and build confidence of teachers to be scientific role models for their students
- Increase the quality of STEM and geography teaching through building teachers’ scientific knowledge and research skills, and providing them with a transformational experience that motivates them to pass on these to their students
- Encourage teachers to implement biodiversity and conservation projects, to help educate and inspire students (and the wider community) to protect biodiversity
Bush Blitz field work
An example of some specific methods you may have the opportunity to use include:
- Using nets and traps to collect flying insects
- Setting and retrieving traps for reptiles and small mammals
- Using equipment to remove true bugs and other insects from their host plants
- Conducting surveys of spiders, snails and other invertebrates
- Collecting and preserving native plants
- Learning identification techniques for a wide variety of both plant and animal species
To be eligible you must be an Australian teacher currently teaching years 4-12.
You do not need to be STEM or geography trained nor an experienced teacher. You just need to be passionate about STEM/geography, STEM/geography teaching, and keen to share your experiences with your school community. We particularly encourage teachers who might benefit from participation. These could include teachers less confident in teaching the STEM disciplines, experienced teachers who are keen to improve their fieldwork skills in order to instruct their students and/or teachers that want to actively demonstrate to their students the biodiversity of Australian ecosystems. Bush Blitz TeachLive provides the opportunity to broaden teacher knowledge and experiences beyond the classroom.
Taking part in Bush Blitz provides a unique opportunity to work with scientists in the field. All research techniques will be taught on site, and the scientists and project staff will be with you if you have any questions. Some sites contain limited facilities, so it is important you are comfortable with:
- Being in the field for 8 hrs/day while walking over rocky terrain.
- Travelling as a passenger for long distances in 4WD vehicles, often over bumpy terrain
- Not having access to toilets whilst in the field
- Sleeping in a tent, and being thrifty with shower usage
* One position will be reserved for an early career teacher who has taught for three years or fewer
* Two positions will be allocated to financial members (school or individual) of the relevant state or territory Science Teachers Association.
Ineligibility: If you have previously participated in Bush Blitz TeachLive, you are ineligible to apply. If you have participated on a separate Earthwatch TeachLive or TeachWild program in the last 2 years your application will receive lower priority. Education providers outside of schools (such as environmental education providers may also receive lower priority, as the program requires teaching “live” direct to a class).
Applications and Selection
Please apply (when applications are open) through the ASTA website.
Selection will be based on:
- Your response to the three selection criteria on the Bush Blitz TeachLive application form
- A video (no more than two minutes) of you explaining why you would like to participate in this Bush Blitz TeachLive, and how you would use the experience to support your teaching and learning program and the benefit to your students
- Support from your Principal
The final selection of teacher participants is at the discretion of the selection panel, which includes representatives from Bush Blitz, Earthwatch Australia and ASTA.
A member of the Bush Blitz TeachLive selection committee will contact the Principal of each shortlisted applicant to ensure support.
What is provided?
Bush Blitz TeachLive is a fully-funded program. Costs which are covered include:
- Travel and accommodation getting to and from the Bush Blitz
- Accommodation in the field
- All meals while in the field
- Full teacher replacement costs (6 school days)
- Training in field research methods
- Training in website content management
- Detailed briefing materials on the survey
- Bush Blitz TeachLive merchandise
This program will require a dedicated commitment by teachers. Successful applicants are expected to commit to the following.
- Carefully read provided information on the program, and ensure you can source items on the packing list (TBA).
- Be available for an induction and web training seminar (via a Zoom video call)
- Have your own laptop available to bring to the Bush Blitz
- Have reasonable IT and social media skills in order to post content and share your experiences via the Bush Blitz TeachLive website
- Are physically fit and active, and prepared to work up to 8 hours a day in the field
During- expedition commitments
- Allow at least one day before and after the expedition to travel to and from the expedition base camp.
- Participate and engage in daily field activities, including any community events or workshops. Fieldwork times may vary and you will need to be flexible with your time (both daytime and evening fieldwork will occur)
- Write and upload a blog each day to the Bush Blitz TeachLive website
- Arrange a video-call with your class while in the field, or from the Bush Blitz base camp
Post- expedition commitments
- Design and write an engaging teaching and learning curriculum resource (3 or 4 lesson plans) based on your experiences on Bush Blitz which will be uploaded
- After collaboration with fellow participants/scientists/Earthwatch staff, aim to implement a biodiversity-themed project at your school
- Contribute to an article on Bush Blitz TeachLive to Teaching Science (ASTA’s professional journal). The STA member participants may be requested to submit a brief article to their STA journal or newsletter
- Participate in ongoing evaluation of the Bush Blitz TeachLive program with Earthwatch Australia