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Turtle Watch: Enhancing science engagement

Lewis, E., Nielsen, L., Pearson, J. and Baudains, C.ORCID: 0000-0001-8340-864X (2012) Turtle Watch: Enhancing science engagement. SCIOS: Journal of the Science Teachers' Association of Western Australia, 48 (2). pp. 14-18.

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Engaging students in authentic science settings and real-life contexts is viewed as one way of ‘re-imagining science education’ in Australia (Tytler, 2007). Turtle Watch is an example of such re-imagining. Turtle Watch began in 2006 and involves student and community participation in an ongoing conservation project being conducted in the Perth Metropolitan Area of Western Australia. The target species of this project is the oblong turtle, Chelodina oblonga, which inhabits the wetlands and rivers of Perth (Figure 1). Oblong turtles are under threat from habitat loss, road deaths, predation and climate change (Bartholomaeus, 2012; Giles, 2001; Sinclair, 2010; Tate, 2009).

The aims of Turtle Watch align with national ‘Inspiring Australia’ and ‘Powering Ideas’ objectives, which emphasise the critical need to build a strong relationship between science and society, supported by effective communication about science and its benefits (Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, 2010). Evidence demonstrating this alignment will be highlighted.

There are two phases to the Turtle Watch story: 2006-2008, and 2010 to the present. Turtle Watch 1, 2006-2008, will be briefly summarised as this phase has been previously reported (Lewis, Baudains, & Mansfield, 2008a, 2008b, 2009; Lewis, Mansfield, & Baudains, 2008, 2010). A discussion of Turtle Watch 2 (2010-present) is the main focus of this paper.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Science Teachers' Association of Western Australia
Copyright: © 2012 The Science Teachers' Association of Western Australia
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