Freaks and Creeps: Devil Island - Teachers Notes

Video highlights from Freaks & Creeps

Upper Primary and Junior Secondary

TELEVISION SERIES      

Freaks and Creeps

LEARNING TASK EPISODE    

Devil Island

LEARNING LEVEL            

Upper Primary, Junior Secondary

CURRICULUM RELEVANCE    

Science, Biology


PROGRAMME DESCRIPTION FOR TEACHERS

National Geographic's Emerging Explorer, zoologist Lucy Cooke, is on a quest to champion the oddball creatures of the animal kingdom and show the world what these underdogs have to offer. In Devil Island, Lucy visits Tasmania, home to some of the planets truly odd animals, including the Tasmanian devil, an animal that once thrived, but whose numbers are plummeting due to a contagious cancer. She also studies the duckbill platypus and the echidna, a spiny, egg-laying mammal with a multi-headed penis. Cooke's popular blogs, online videos, films, and TV programs bring her trademark humour and quirky storytelling style to a serious message: if we only care for the best known and best loved species, other enormously crucial parts of the web of life could vanish forever. With her unconventional attitude, she leverages the Internet to reach a new audience that more traditional wildlife programming has yet to tap.



BACKGROUND INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS

Quick! Which species pulls at your heartstrings—a tiger cub or an algae-covered sloth? A panda or a toad? A lion or a dung beetle? When it comes to emotional attachment, research funding, global popularity, and conservation support, the fluffier your fur and the bigger your eyes, the better your chances—unless zoologist Lucy Cooke has a vote. She's on a one-woman crusade to show the world why some of the most unlovable animals are actually the most interesting and deserving of our attention, study, and protection.

Cooke's goal is to preach to the unconverted: "A lot of conservation messages are difficult to hear; they make people feel guilty. I think humour is the sugar coating that helps people swallow the pill. If you manage to make someone laugh while you tell them something important, they'll stick around and listen to more."

Cooke worries about what she calls "the tyranny of the cute." "There are so many television shows about koala bears and kittens," she observes. "All the attention seems focused on a handful of charismatic ‘celebrity' animals. Even scientists get less funding for animals that aren't cute and cuddly. In fact, large mammal species appear in 500 times as many published papers as threatened amphibians."

She adds: "I've always loved an underdog. Weird, freaky creatures fascinate me because they tell an amazing evolutionary story. I'm interested in all of nature, not just the shiny, fluffy bits."

"It's about championing animals that don't have a voice and telling their stories in a way that engages a wider audience. I want people to share my sense of wonder, amazement, and love for these creatures. Once you understand why they're ugly or odd, I hope you'll appreciate and want to save them as much as I do."

In Devil Island, Lucy meets local conservationists who introduce her to a range of Tasmania's indigenous creatures, including marsupials, monotremes and a monster crayfish, in an interesting variety of habitats. She uncovers fascinating facts about the animals, and discusses the evolutionary impact of Tasmania's bio-geographic isolation.


CURRICULUM POINTERS
 

Upper Primary Curriculum
The science curriculum provides opportunities for students to experience the joy of scientific discovery and to nurture students’ natural curiosity about the world around them. These ideas resonate with the concept of scientific literacy, a term that is well established in the science education literature.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale


Junior Secondary Curriculum
The science curriculum addresses the diverse needs of Australian students by providing them with scientific knowledge, understandings and skills to make informed and responsible personal, social, technological and environmental decisions that impact at the local, national and global levels and to participate, if they so wish, in science-rich careers.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale

 

CURRICULUM OUTCOMES

 

Upper Primary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will develop:
•    an interest in science and a curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions and speculate about the changing world in which they live
•    an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
•    an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims


Junior Secondary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will develop:
•    an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
•    an ability to solve problems and make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science while taking into account moral, ethical and social implications
•    an understanding of historical and cultural aspects of science as well as contemporary science issues and activities and an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science
Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Aims
 

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit