Year Level

Science Curriculum

Reef Magic Education Links


Students observe and describe the behaviours and properties of everyday objects, materials and living things. They explore change in the world around them, including changes that impact on them, such as the weather, and changes they can affect, such as making things move or change shape. They learn that seeking answers to questions they pose and making observations is a core part of science and use their senses to gather different types of information.

  • Science involves exploring and observing using the senses.
  • Habitats in local communities – The Great Barrier Reef
  • How do humans affect habitats?
  • Change in habitats.
  • What happens if?
Year 1

Students infer simple cause-and-effect relationships from their observations and experiences and begin to link events and phenomena with observable effects and to ask questions. They observe changes that can be large or small and happen quickly or slowly. They explore the properties of familiar objects and phenomena, identifying similarities and differences. Students begin to value counting as a means of comparing observations and are introduced to ways of organising their observations.

  • How do animals rely on their habitats?
  • How can habitats change?
  • Cause and effect
  • What happens to animals when their habitat changes?
  • Use of surveys to observe. Comparing observations.
Year 2

Students describe the components of simple systems, such as stationary objects subjected to pushes or pulls, or combinations of materials, and show how objects and materials interact through direct manipulation. They observe patterns of growth and change in living things and describe patterns and make predictions. They explore the use of resources from Earth and are introduced to the idea of the flow of matter when considering how water is used. They use counting and informal measurements to make and compare observations and begin to recognise that organising these observations in tables makes it easier to show patterns.

  • The Great Barrier Reef – A changing system
  • How do animals change when their habitat does?
  • Exploring patterns in changing ecosystems.
  • How do humans affect ecosystems?
  • Use of surveys to make and compare observations.
Year 3

In Year 3, students observe heat and its effects on solids and liquids and begin to develop an understanding of energy flows through simple systems. In observing day and night, they develop an appreciation of regular and predictable cycles. Students order their observations by grouping and classifying; in classifying things as living or non-living they begin to recognise that classifications are not always easy to define or apply. They begin to quantify their observations to enable comparison and learn more sophisticated ways of identifying and representing relationships, including the use of tables and graphs to identify trends. They use their understanding of relationships between components of simple systems to make predictions.

  • With guidance, identify questions in a familiar context that can be investigated scientifically and predict what may happen based on prior knowledge. Use tools and or equipment to make and record observations using formal measurements and digital technologies.
  • Day to day vs seasonal vs long term change on The Great Barrier Reef.
  • What is classified as living and nonliving?
  • Features of marine animals and plants?
  • Survival needs of living things and how the Great Barrier Reef provides these?
  • Use of surveys to gather and quantify information.
  • Using long term survey monitoring to make comparisons and understand relationships and changes.
Year 4

Students broaden their understanding of classification and form and function through an exploration of the properties of natural and processed materials. They learn that forces include non-contact forces and begin to appreciate that some interactions result from phenomena that can’t be seen with the naked eye. They begin to appreciate that current systems, such as Earth’s surface, have characteristics that have resulted from past changes and that living things form part of systems. They understand that some systems change in predictable ways, such as through cycles. They apply their knowledge to make predictions based on interactions within systems, including those involving the actions of humans.

  • With guidance, identify questions in a familiar context that can be investigated scientifically and predict what may happen based on prior knowledge.
  • How changes over time have resulted in the Great Barrier Reef of today.
  • Exploring cycles on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The role of living things in a system.
  • What happens to living things when a system changes?
  • How can cycles change and can humans change a cycle?
  • Use of surveys to track changes in a system.
  • Use of surveys to monitor cycles.
  • Use of surveys to identify changes in a natural system or cycle.
Year 5

Students are introduced to cause and effect relationships through an exploration of adaptations of living things and how this links to form and function. They explore observable phenomena associated with light and begin to appreciate that phenomena have sets of characteristic behaviours. They broaden their classification of matter to include gases and begin to see how matter structures the world around them. Students consider Earth as a component within a solar system and use models for investigating systems at astronomical scales. Students begin to identify stable and dynamic aspects of systems and learn how to look for patterns and relationships between components of systems. They develop explanations for the patterns they observe.

  • Practical guidance poses questions to clarify practical problems or inform a scientific investigation and predict on the findings. Observe, measure and record data using digital technologies, drawings and possible field trips to the reef.
  • What are adaptions?
  • Physical adaptations of reef plants and animals?
  • Behavioural adaptations of reef fish?
  • Education and research field trip – Adaptations and reef relationships
  • Evaluate coral structures and their positions on the reef flat. Estimate growth patterns, availability of sunlight, nutrients and completion from surrounding coral colonies.
  • Estimate the availability for new coral recruits and survey the animals within the habitat.
Year 6

Students explore how changes can be classified in different ways. They learn about transfer and transformations of electricity and continue to develop an understanding of energy flows through systems. They link their experiences of electric circuits as a system at one scale to generation of electricity from a variety of sources at another scale and begin to see links between these systems. They develop a view of Earth as a dynamic system, in which changes in one aspect of the system impact on other aspects; similarly, they see that the growth and survival of living things are dependent on matter and energy flows within a larger system. Students begin to see the role of variables in measuring changes and the value of accuracy in these measurements. They learn how to look for patterns and to use these to identify and explain relationships by drawing on evidence.

  • With guidance, plan appropriate investigation methods to gather evidence, answer questions and solve problems.
  • Exploring links between the different systems of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • How changes in one system can flow on to another.
  • What is a healthy habitat? Observe, measure and record data. Use this to describe relationships between habitats and the life that inhabits them.
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Year Level

Science Curriculum

Reef Magic Education Links

Year 7

Students explore the diversity of life on Earth and continue to develop their understanding of the role of classification in ordering and organising information. They use and develop models such as food chains, food webs and the water cycle to represent and analyse the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems and explore the impact of changing components within these systems. They consider the interaction between multiple forces when explaining changes in an object’s motion. They explore the notion of renewable and non-renewable resources and consider how this classification depends on the timescale considered. They investigate relationships in the Earth-sun-moon system and use models to predict and explain events. Students make accurate measurements and control variables to analyse relationships between system components. They explore and explain these relationships through appropriate representations and consider the role of science in decision making processes.

  • Interactions between organisms can be described in terms of food chains and food webs. Human activities can affect these interactions. Investigations and Field Work
  • What do we know about the Great barrier Reef?
  • Why is the Great Barrier Reef Important?
  • Diversity of the Great Barrier Reef?
  • What community members benefit from the Great Barrier Reef resources?
  • What are the food chains of the Great Barrier Reef – Are they important?
  • How does it all link together?
  • How can humans impact these systems both positively and negatively?
  • Use of survey tools to take measurements that assist in decision making and environmental management.
Year 8

Students are introduced to cells as microscopic structures that explain macroscopic properties of living systems. They link form and function at a cellular level and explore the organisation of body systems in terms of flows of matter between interdependent organs. Similarly, they explore changes in matter at a particle level, and distinguish between chemical and physical change. They begin to classify different forms of energy and describe the role of energy in causing change in systems, including the role of heat and kinetic energy in the rock cycle. Students use experimentation to isolate relationships between components in systems and explain these relationships through increasingly complex representations. They make predictions and propose explanations, drawing on evidence to support their views while considering other points of view.

  • Multicellular organisms contain systems of organs that carry out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce. Conduct a range of Investigations including field work.
  • Collaboratively and individually plan and conduct a range of investigation types, including field work and experiments. What are cells? Plan investigations into coral cells.
  • Single celled Zooxanthellae – Coral and types of coral mitosis?
  • What are the requirements for healthy corals?
  • Relationships between different components of an ecosystem.
Year 9

Students consider the operation of systems at a range of scales. They explore ways in which the human body as a system responds to its external environment and the interdependencies between biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems. They are introduced to the notion of the atom as a system of protons, electrons and neutrons, and how this system can change through nuclear decay. They learn that matter can be rearranged through chemical change and that these changes play an important role in many systems. They are introduced to the concept of the conservation of matter and begin to develop a more sophisticated view of energy transfer. They begin to apply their understanding of energy and forces to global systems such as continental movement.

  • Ecosystems – What are they and how are they defined?
  • What is energy input and energy output?
  • Biotic and Abiotic?
  • What happens if there are changes to the natural energy flows?
  • Are human impacts are threat to natural energy flows?
  • What are the benefits of scientific data in tracking changes within reef ecosystems?
Year 10

Students explore systems at different scales and connect microscopic and macroscopic properties to explain phenomena. Students explore the biological, chemical, geological and physical evidence for different theories, such as the theories of natural selection and the Big Bang.

Students develop their understanding of atomic theory to understand relationships within the periodic table. They understand that motion and forces are related by applying physical laws. They learn about the relationships between aspects of the living, physical and chemical world that are applied to systems on a local and global scale and this enables them to predict how changes will affect equilibrium within these systems.

  • What are the requirements for healthy corals?
  • What is Climate Change and how is it related to the carbon cycle? Please include biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and the atmosphere.
  • How are scientific studies used to link the synergies between climate change and coral bleaching?
  • What is being done locally and globally to reduce the impacts of climate change?
  • Investigations into Coral Bleaching. Is coral bleaching linked to human induced activities?
  • What are the main causes?
  • Natural vs artificial selection pressures.
  • Which of these may apply to coral reefs?
  • How do these change coral reefs?
Year 11 / 12
Marine Science


Explore the ways marine science describes and explains how physical and chemical processes shape and define marine environments

Understanding of oceanographic forces and actions is essential to appreciate the processes of ocean and coastal change

investigate the dynamics of ocean and coastal systems

Marine Biology

Explore the ways marine science is used to describe and explain how marine organisms are influenced by the abiotic and biotic factors of ecosystems

Understanding of sustainability is essential to appreciate the processes that shape the future of biodiversity in marine environments. Students conduct investigations into the diversity of marine organisms and the biotic and abiotic factors influencing marine organisms. They examine the population data in order to analyse the factors affecting the distribution of marine organisms

Marine Systems – Connection and Change

Explore the ways marine science is used to describe and explain how marine ecosystems are formed and change due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic influences

An understanding of coral reef ecology and the connectivity between marine ecosystems

Examine trends, patterns and relationships between abiotic and biotic factors in order to analyse change

Ocean Issues and Resource Management

Explore the ways marine science is used to describe and explain how changes due to climate and human use influence fisheries and other marine resources

Understanding of fish population dynamics

Students conduct experiments and investigations into factors affecting ocean productivity.

  • Explore the complex levels at which marine ecosystems function including interaction of species within a habitat and separate habitats.
  • Explore the oceanographic forces that shape coral reef habitats, distribution of marine life and influence population structure and dynamics
  • Identify key biotic and abiotic features of a reef ecosystem and how they influence the surrounding habitats
  • Begin to explore the concept of biodiversity, what it means in a coral reef system, why sustainability is important for conserving biodiversity
  • Use of surveys to quantify biodiversity. Interpreting results and inferring overall reef health from key indicators.
  • Students investigate the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts that might occur from potential new developments within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park e.g. scheduled large scale dredging plans adjacent to the Marine Park.
  • Students are encouraged to investigate and write a report on climate change. Reference: The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2019. Identify regional, state and global considerations. What are stakeholders doing regarding research, education and implementation of Climate change Action Plans?
  • Identify stakeholders and their various activities that are associated directly or indirectly to the Great Barrier Reef.
Year 11 / 12
Aquatic Practices


Environmental conditions

  • Ocean currents, interpretation of tide data, reef formation


  • Biotic and abiotic components and their relationships
  • Ecosystems and habitats

Conservation and sustainability

  • Factors that influence ecosystems
  • Marine pests
  • Citizen science


Entering the aquatic environment




Cultural Understandings

  • Explore the complex levels at which marine ecosystems function including interaction of species within a habitat and separate habitats.
  • Identify key biotic and abiotic features of a reef ecosystem and how they influence the surrounding habitats
  • Students investigate the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts that might occur from potential new developments within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park e.g. scheduled large scale dredging plans adjacent to the Marine Park.
  • Insight into marine pests, Crown of Thorns Starfish including management and research strategies.
  • Incorporation of science into management strategies.
  • Power of citizen science and how programs can assist managers and researchers in key decisions.
  • Explore career pathways in the various industries and sectors that relate to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Work with various local stakeholders including government, indigenous land and sea managers and scientists.
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Local Stakeholders

GBR Biology will work closely with local stakeholders in the delivery of the education and research programs for students.

  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • The GBR Foundation
  • AIMS
  • Citizen Science projects
  • Mars Sustainable Solutions
  • Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
  • James Cook University
  • CQUniversity
  • Tourism Industry
  • Gunggandji Land and Sea Rangers and Traditional Elders, Sea Country
  • Djunbunji Land and Sea Rangers and Traditional Elders, Sea Country
  • Yirrganydji Land and Sea Country Rangers
  • Xanthe Rivett – Underwater Photography education

If you decide to participate in the education and research programs, there may be options available to you to have a representative from one or more of the above stakeholders talk to your students. The representative may come along with the students on the reef field trip to talk about their area of expertise and the relationships between their industry and culture to the Great Barrier Reef.

For further information, please contact the Reef Community Education Coordinator:

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